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HAND;. 
AT THE 



' -\IVI RSH V OF 
TOROMo PRESS 






M R. M EESON'S Wl I.I.. 



.1G\: the same Butbcr. 



CE TYWAYO AND HIS WHITE 
NEIGHBOURS. 

DAWN. 

THE WITCH'S HEAD. 

KING SOLOMON'S MINES. 

SHE. 

JESS. 

ALLAN QUATERMAIN. 

MAIWA'S REVENGE. 









m 



Alalia 







■^usta set her t>:cth and endured in silence." — Page 137. 



X>w» 



MR. MEESONS WILL 



BY 



H. RIDER HAGGARD 

AUTHOR OF 
"KING SOLOMON'S MINES," "DAWN, " Mil. WITCH'S HEAD, 
"ALLAN QUATERMAIN," LTC. 



WITH SIXTEEN ILLUSTRATIO.XS 




LONDON 
SPENCER BLACK E I 1 

Successor to .1. & 18 flfl o^rll 
MILTON HOUS] :. BRIDE STREET, E.C 

1 888 



PR 






IN 

RECOLLECTION OF MUCH COURTESY AND K1NI >:. 

I 
(without permission) 

De&fcate 

THIS SOLEMN AND VERACIOUS NARRATIVE 

TO 

ALL MY LI I RIENDS 0] I Ml 

PROBATE BAR 



PRE FA C E. 




LETTER received from a member of an eminent 
publishing firm who seems to take Mr. Meeson 
very solemnly, suggests that it may be well 
to preface this story with a few explanatory 
words. I cannot begin them better than by saying that 
Mr. Meeson and his vast establishment exist, so far ;. 
am aware, in the regions of romance alone. There is 
no class of men more exposed to unjust accusations than 
are publishers, unless indeed we may give the palm to 
gentlemen connected with the legal professions. As a 
matter of fact, my experience is that publishers are in the 
main just and frequently generous in their dealings. Per- 
haps I may be allowed to give an example. Some time 
ago I sold a book to a well-known and respected firm 
a certain moderate sum of money. The book succeeded, 
and that firm, to my considerable astonishment, voluntarily 
doubled the amount that they had agi fur it. 

Such houses as this, however, or as that with which I 



x PREFACE. 

have the honour to be chiefly connected, need no testi- 
mony from me. 

But among the numbers who practise publishing, as in 
every other branch of trade, there are " sweaters " to be 
found, who deal almost as harshly with the inexperienced 
producers of the raw literary material as Mr. Mecson dealt 
with Augusta. 

The only part of this humble skit, however, that is 
meant to be taken seriously, is the chapter which tells of 
the loss of the R.M.S. Kangaroo. I believe it to be a fair, 
and in the main an accurate account of what must, and one 
day will happen upon a large and crowded liner in the 
event of such a collision as that described, or of her rapid 
foundering from any other cause ; and it is a remarkable 
thing that people who for the most part set a sufficient 
value on their lives, daily consent to go to sea in ships, 
the boats of which could not on emergency possibly con- 
tain half their number. 

It may be well to state that the story of the tattooed 
will had its origin in a trick which was played with some 
success upon a certain learned Q.C. by his own irreverent 
pupils, and not, as has been suggested, in any French tale 
whatsoever. I never even heard of the very foreign story 
from which I am accused of borrowing an idea till long after 
" Mr. Meeson's Will " was written, and to this hour I have 
not seen it. This is not said, however, by way of claim- 
ing or disclaiming originality of incident, but merely in 
order to save a certain class of critics the labour of further 
research. Possibly the personage in Greek history who 



PRE] ACE 



\i 



tattooed the head of his slave may have been original, but 
it is more probable that he " plagiarised " the idea from the 

I Iittite. Tattooing stories, like most other tales, have I 
been the common property of the world. I for one should 
not be in the least surprised to learn that leg! d some 

time or other, had actually passed under such a will. 

Perhaps I may be allowed to take this opportunity to 
add a few words about the accusations of plagiarism which 
are now so freely brought against authors. Were they all 
true there would be no great harm done, but for the most 
part they are quite devoid of truth. As a rule thi y are laid 
on double lines. One is the time-honoured method of 
parallel columns, by which it is sought to prove that the 
accused author has boldly copied from some given work ; 
the second resolves itself into a charge against him of 
having borrowed the leading idea, or a portion of the 
leading idea of his book, from a source other than his 
own brain. To take the last of these charges first, it 
will be obvious to any thinking person, that at this 
period of the world's history absolute originality has 
become a little difficult There is no such thing as a 
new passion or even a new thought ; and the motives 
that sway our hearts swayed those of all the generations 
that are gone. This being so, the writers of to-ti 
only describe what has been described before. For in- 
stance : an author invents an immortal woman living in a 
cave, and prematurely rejoices, thinking that at last he I 
found a new thing. A little reflection shows his 
Homer found such a woman in the Odysscan myth, and 



xii PREFACE. 

sung of Calypso ; and doubtless the framers of the myth 
found her in some long-lost legend. So it is with every- 
thing ; rare indeed is the book that is not a partial 
plagiarism, if by plagiarism is meant the dealing with what 
in some way has been dealt with before. Thus if the 
anti-plagiaristic code of morals is to be adopted in all its 
severity, it would seem that the manufacture of fiction 
must come to an end. We have already in this nine- 
teenth century reached a stage in which the use, whether 
by chance or design, of an incident recorded in a book of 
travels, is held up as an offence deserving the contempt 
and hatred of society. What fate then is in store for the 
unborn novelists of the twentieth ? 

But if the guardians of literary morals are by any 
chance driven from this position of the stolen idea, they 
fall back upon the parallel-column test. The two or more 
works in question are carefully searched, and some half 
dozen sentences (about three are sufficient to support a 
charge of plagiarism) are discovered, which, when stripped 
of their context and properly manipulated or even falsified, 
have some resemblance to each other. These are printed 
side by side ; the exposure of the sinner is assumed to be 
complete, and he is duly dealt with in the article or in a 
series of articles. I verily believe that any practitioner of 
the literary detective's sorry craft could in this fashion 
prove that Blackstone's Commentaries were plagiarised from 
the Book of Job, or the Book of Job from Blackstone's 
Commentaries. When applied to two works dealing with 
kindred subjects, the results are almost certain, and, to 



PREFACE xiii 

those who wish to be deceived, convincii If, how- 

ever, the incriminating sentences are difficult to find, 
nearly the same effect can be produced by a very simple 
method. Thus, not long ago I received what I may 
justly call a malignant newspaper attack upon myself, in 
the course of which certain points of my book, and of 
another from which I was accused of having plagiari 
were summed up and printed in parallel columns in 
such fashion as to resemble verbatim extracts to the 
eye of a careless reader. I handed the article to a 
friend. Presently he looked up doubtfully. " Certainly," 
he said, "these quotations are very similar." It is probable 
that many other people made the same remark and re- 
mained undeceived.* 

Still, it is to be hoped that readers are left who hold 
that a book should be judged according to its me: 
and the skill with which its central ideas are hand] 
and not by the test of whether or no something can be 

* These and kindred exercises in the art of criticism are by no 
means new. Gautier, in his preface to " Mademoiselle de Mauj 
which was published in 1830, alludes to them in these 
"Jusqu'ici, lorsqu'on avait voulu deprdcier un ouvragc quelcon 
on avait fait des citations fausses ou perlidement isoldes ; on avait 
tronque' des phrases de facon que 1'auteur lui-meme se fut trouvd 
le plus ridicule du monde, on lid avait intent,! 
naires ; on rapprochait des passages de son livre avec des / 
d\iuteurs anciens on modernes qui riy avaient pas 
rapport ; on l'accusait en style de cuisiniorc, et avec force solccismes 
de ne pas savoir sa langue, .... on assurait sdrieuscment que 
son ouvrage poussait a l'anthropopagic, et que lea lectcu; 
naient immanquablement cannibales." 



XIV 



PREFACE. 



raked from the literature of all times and countries that 
has a family resemblance to one or more of those ideas. 
If this hope is baseless novelists may throw aside 
their pens, and betake themselves to some more peaceful 
occupation. 




CONTENTS. 



CHAT. 

I. AUGUSTA AND HER PUBLISHES 
II. HOW EUSTACE WAS DISINHERITED 

III. AUGUSTA'S LITTLE SISTER 

IV. AUGUSTA'S DECISION 
V. THE K.M.S. "KANGAROO" 

VI. MR. TOMBEY GOES FORWARD 
VII. Till CATASTROPHE. 
VIII. KERG1 ELI V LAND . 
IX. AUGUSTA TO THE RESCUE 
X. HIE LAST OF MR. M 
XL RESCUED 
XII. SOUTHAMPTON QUAY 

XIII. EUSTACE BUYS A PAPER 

XIV. AT HANOVER SQUARE 
XV. EUSTACE I I TS A I WW I R 

XVI. SHORT ON LEGAL I.I I v 
XVII. U< ■ A\ AUl ' - I A W \- I li I D 
XVIII. AUGUSTA I 



[9 

3' 

60 
70 
84 

1 Of) 

'-5 
'45 



1 



/ 1 



-1 ; 



XVI 



CONTEXTS. 



CHAP. 

XIX. MEESON V. ADDISON AND ANOTHER 

XX. JAMES BREAKS DOWN 

XXI. GRANT AS PRAYED. 

XXII. ST. GEORGE'S, HANOVER SQUARE . 

xxin. meeson's once again . 



PAGE 
224 

233 

247 

264 
276 




LIS! OF [LLUSTRA1 I« >NS 






•• Augusta set her tee-.h and endured in silence " 

•■ And to think that all this comes out of the brains cf chaps 

like you " 

Mr. Meeson tearing his Will . . . .; i 

npadour Ha'.l ...... -45 

The Street where Augusta lived ...... 

. igusta gently lifted the sheet, revealing the s\\ 

.c Jeannie in her coffin" . ..... 

"A mighty vessel steamed majestically out of the mi 

the Thames "........ 

'oo at Sea ....... 

— by George, she's going! ' said an 

Johnnie i i i 

" Right into this beautiful fjord th ... 

•• Nothing but the white wave-horses, across which 

cormorants steered their swift, ur._ . • 

"O Auntie ! Auntie !" Dick sang out i: 

big ship comin g along ''...-• 

Michael 

'• Down went the books with a crash a;.d a bang, and, c 

away by their weight, down went Mi . . 

. jgusta turned her back to the Judge, in o: bt 

examir.e what was written on .... 

"Just as the men came u; 

lopking very foolish " . • • • 



MR. MEESON'S WILL. 



CHAPTER I. 




AUGUSTA AND HER PUBLISH! . 

jVERYBODY who has any connection with 
Birmingham will be acquainted with the vast 
publishing establishment still known by the 
short title of " Meeson's," which is perhaps the 
most remarkable institution of the sort in Euro; There 

arc — or rather there were, at the date of the beginning of 
this history — three partners in Meeson's — Meeson himself, 
the managing partner ; Mr. Addison, and Mr. Roscoe — and 
people in Birmingham used to say that ther 
interested in the affair, for Meeson's was a company. 

However this may be, Meeson & Co. wen- undoubtedly 
a commercial marvel. The firm employed more than t 
thousand hands; and its works, lit throughout with 
electric light, cover two acres and a quarter <>f land. 
One hundred commercial travellers, at three pound 
week and a commission, went forth east and west, and 
north and south, to sell the books i son (which were 

largely religious in their nature) in all lands; and live-and- 



20 MR. MEESON'S WILL 

twenty tame authors (who were illustrated by thirteen tame 
artists) sat — at salaries ranging from one to five hundred 
a year — in vault-like hutches in the basement, and week 
by week poured out that hat-work * for which Meeson's was 
justly famous. Then there were editors and vice-editors, 
and he|ds of the various departments, and sub-heads, and 
financial secretaries, and readers, and many managers ; 
but what their names were no man knew, because at 
Meeson's all the employes of the great house were known 
by numbers ; personalities and personal responsibility 
being the abomination of the firm. Nor was it allowed 
to any one having dealings with these items ever to see 
the same number twice, presumably for fear lest the numb"er 
should remember that he was a man and a brother, and 
his heart should melt towards the unfortunate, and the 
financial interests of Meeson's should suffer. In short, 
Meeson's was an establishment created for and devoted 
to money-making, and the fact was kept studiously and 
even insolently before the eyes of everybody connected with 
it — which was, of course, as it should be, in this happy land 
of commerce. After all that has been written, the reader 
will not be surprised to learn that the partners in Meeson's 
were rich beyond the dreams of avarice. Their palaces 
would have been a wonder even in ancient Babylon, and 
would have excited admiration in the corruptest and most 
luxurious days of Rome. Where could one see such horses, 
such carriages, such galleries of sculpture, or such collec- 
tions of costly gems as at the palatial halls of Messrs. 
Mceson, Addison, and Roscoe ? 

"And to think," as the mighty Mecson himself would 
say, with a lordly wave of his right hand, to some asto- 

* Hat-work, il is perhaps necessary to explain, is work with no head 
in it. 



AUGUSTA AND II! R PUBLISHER. 31 

nishcd wretch of an author whom he has chosen to over- 
whelm with the sight of this magnificeno "I think that 
all this comes out of the brains of chaps like you ! Why, 

young man, I tell you that if all the money that has !• 
paid to you scribblers since the days of Elizabeth were 
added together it would not come up to my little pile ; hut, 
mind you, it ain't so much fiction that has done the trick 
— it's religion. It's piety as pays, especially when it's 
printed." 

Then the unsophisticated youth would go away, his 1 
too full for words, but pondering how these things were, 
and by-and-by he would pass into the Mecson melting- 
ajad learn something about it. 

One day King Mecson sat in his counting-house counting 
out his money, or, at least, looking over the books of the 
firm. He was in a very bad temper, and his heavy brows 
were wrinkled up in a way calculated to make the counting- 
house clerks shake on their stools. Mccson's had a branch 
establishment at Sydney, in Australia, which establishmi nt 
had, until lately, been paying — it is true not as well as tin- 
English one, but still fifteen or twenty p< r c< lit. But 1 
a wonder had come to p^s. A great An,' rican publish- 
ing firm had started an opposition house in Mel bom 
and their "cuteness" was more than the "cut " of 

Meeson. Did Meeson's publish an edition of the works 
of any standard author at threepence per volume, the oppo- 
sition company brought out the same work at twi 
halfpenny ; did Meeson's subsidise a newspaper to puff 
their undertakings, the opposition firm subsidised two to 
cry them down, and so on. And now the results of all 
this were becoming apparent : for the financial y< r 
ended the Australian branch had barely earned a beggarly 
net dividend of seven per cent. 



22 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

No wonder Mr. Meeson was furious, and no wonder 
that the clerks shook upon their stools. 

" This must be seen into, No. 3," said Mr. Meeson, 
bringing his fist down with a bang on to the balance-sheet. 

No. 3 was one of the editors : a mild-eyed little man 
with blue spectacles. He had once been a writer of 
promise ; but somehow Meeson's had got him for its 
own, and turned him into a publisher's hack. 

" Quite so, sir," he said humbly. " It is very bad — 
it is dreadful to think of Meeson's coming down to seven 
per cent. — seven per cent. ! " and he held up his hands. 

" Don't stand there like a stuck pig, No. 3," said Mr. 
Meeson fiercely ; " but suggest something." 

" Well, sir," said No. 3 more humbly than ever, for he 
was terribly afraid of his employer ; " I think, perhaps, 
that somebody had better go to Australia, and see what 
can be done." 

" I know one thing that can be done," said Mr. Meeson, 
with a snarl : " all those fools out there can be sacked, 
and sacked they shall be ; and, what's more, I'll go and 
sack them myself. That will do, No. 3 ; that will do ; " 
and No. 3 departed, and glad enough he was to go. 

As he went a clerk arrived, and gave a card to the great 
man. 

" Miss Augusta Smithers," he read ; then, with a grunt, 
" show Miss Augusta Smithers in." 

Presently Miss Augusta Smithers arrived. She was a 
tall, well-formed young lady of about twenty-four, with pretty 
golden hair, deep grey eyes, a fine forehead, and a delicate 
mouth ; just now, however, she looked very nervous. 

" Well, Miss Smithers, what is it ? " asked the publisher. 

" I came, Mr. Meeson — I came about my book." 

"Your book, Miss Smithers?" this was an affectation of 




" And to think that nil this comes out of the brains of chr- 



AUGUSTA AND HER PUBLISHER. 25 

forgetfulness ; "let me sec? — forgive mc, but we publish 
so many books. Oh, yes, I remember: 'Jemima's V 
Oh, well, I believe it is going on fairly." 

"I saw you advertised the sixteenth thousand the other 
day," put in Miss Smithers apologetically. 

" Did we — did we ? ah, then, you know more about it than 
I do," and he looked at his visitor in a way that conveyed 
urly enough that he considered the interview was en 

Miss Smithers rose, and then, with a spi ic effort, 

sat down again. "The fact is, Mr. Meeson," she said — 
"the fact is, I thought that, perhaps, a- 'Jemima's V< 
had been such a great success, you might, perhaps — in 
short, you might be inclined to give me some small sum 
in addition to what I have received." 

Mr. Meeson looked up. His forehead was wrinkled 
till the shaggy eyebrows nearly hid the sharp little e; 
"What!" he said. " What!" 

At this moment the door opened, and a young gentleman 
came slowly in. lie was a very nice-looking young man, 
tall and well-shaped, with a fair skin and jolly blue eyes — 
in short, a typical young Englishman of the better sort, 
atatc suo twenty-four. I have said that he came slowly 
in, but that scarcely conveys the gay and digage air of in- 
dependence which pervaded this young man, and w! 
would certainly have struck any observer as little short of 
shocking, when contrasted with the worm-like attitude "I 
those who crept round the feet of Meeson. This you 
man had not, indeed, even taken the trouble to remove his 
hat, which was perched upon the back of his head, his ha' 
were in his pockets, a sacrilegious whistle hovered <>n his 
lips, and he opened the door of the sanctum sanctorum of 
the Meeson establishment with a hide ! 

"How do, uncle?" he said to the Commercial I 



26 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

who was sitting there behind his formidable books, address- 
ing him even as though he were an ordinary man. " Why, 
what's up ? " 

Just then, however, he caught sight of the very hand- 
some young lady who was seated in the office, and his 
whole demeanour underwent a most remarkable change ; 
out came the hands from his pockets, off went the hat, and, 
turning, he bowed, really rather nicely, considering how 
impromptu the whole performance was. 

" What is it, Eustace ? " asked Mr. Meeson sharply. 

" Oh, nothing, uncle ; nothing — it can bide," and, 
without waiting for an invitation, he took a chair, and 
sat down in such a position that he could see Miss 
Smithers without being seen of his uncle. 

" I was saying, Miss Smithers, or, rather, I was going 
to say," went on the elder Meeson, " that, in short, I do 
not in the least understand what you can mean. You 
will remember that you were paid a sum of fifty pounds 
for the copyright of ' Jemima's Vow.' " 

" Great Heavens ! " murmured Master Eustace, behind ; 
" what a do ! " 

" At the time an alternative agreement, offering you 
seven per cent, on the published price of the book, was 
submitted to you, and had you accepted it, you would, 
doubtless, have realised a larger sum," and Mr. Meeson 
contracted his hairy eyebrows and gazed at the poor girl 
in a way that was, to say the least, alarming. But 
Augusta, though she felt sadly inclined to flee, still stood 
to her guns, for, to tell the truth, her need was very great. 

" I could not afford to wait for the seven per cent., Mr. 
Meeson," she said humbly. 

" Oh, ye gods ! seven per cent., when he makes about 
thirty-five!" murmured Eustace, in the background. 



AUGUSTA AND HER PUBLISHER. 37 

" Possibly, Miss Sraithers ; possibly," went on th . 
man. "You must really forgive me if I am not acquaii 

with the exact condition of your private affairs. I am, 
however, aware from experience that the money mal 
most writing people are a little embarrassed." 

Augusta winced, and Mr. Meeson, rising heavily fr 
his chair, went to a large safe which stood and 

extracted from it a bundle of agreements. These he § ' 
at one by one till he found what he was looking for. 

" Here is the agreement," he said; ''let me see? ah, I 
thought so — copyright fifty pounds, half proceeds of riyhts 
of translation, and a clause binding you to offer any future- 
work you may produce during the next five to our 
house on the seven per cent, agreement, or a sum not 
ceeding one hundred pounds for the copyright. Now, Miss 
Smithers, what have you to say? You signed this pa 
of your own free will. It so happens that we have m 
a large profit on your book : indeed, I don't mind telling 
you that we have got as much as we gave you back from 
America for the sale of the American rights ; but that is 
no ground for your coming to ask more 1 than ■ 
agreed to accept. I never heard of such a thing in the 
whole course of my professional experience; never!" and 
he paused, and once more eyed her st< inly. 

" At any rate, there ought to be something I nc 

to me from the rights of translation — I saw in the pap- r 
that the book was to be translated into French and German," 
said Augusta faintly. 

"Oh! yes, no doubt — Eustace, oblig by ton 

the bell." 

The young gentleman did so, and a tall, melancholy- 
looking clerk appeared. 

"No. 18/' snarled Mr. Meeson, In the t 



2 8 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

amiability that he reserved for his employes, " make out 
the translation account of 'jemima's Vow,' and fill up a 
cheque of balance due to the author." 

No. iS vanished like a thin, unhappy ghost, and Mr. 
Mceson once more addressed the girl before him. " If 
you want money, Miss Smithcrs," he said, " you had 
better write us another book. I am not going to deny 
that your work is good work — a little too deep, and not 
quite orthodox enough, perhaps ; but still good. I tested 
it myself, when it came to hand — which is a thing I don't 
often do— and saw it was good selling quality, and you 
see I didn't make a mistake. I believe ' Jemima's Vow ' will 
sell twenty thousand without stopping— here's the account." 

As he spoke the spectre-like clerk put down a neatly-ruled 
bit of paper and an unsigned cheque on the desk before his 
employer, and then smiled a shadowy smile and vanished. 

Mr. Meeson glanced through the account, signed the 
cheque, and handed it, together with the account, to 
Augusta, who proceeded to read it. It ran thus : — 

Augusta Smithers in account with Meeson & Co. 



To Sale of Right of Translation of ) 
"Jemima's Vow" into French 1 

Do. do. do. into German 



£> >. d. 



o o 



£*\ 



£ s. d. 

Less amount due to Messrs. Meeson, ) 

f 700 
being one half of net proceeds ) 

Less Commission, &c, . . . . 3 19 o 

Balance due to Author, as per cheque 



herewith 



AUGUSTA AND HER PUBLISHER 

Augusta looked, and then slowly crumpled up the ch- 
in her hand. 

"If I understand, Mr. Meeson," .she said, "you have 
sold the two rights of translation of my book, which you 

-suaded me to leave in your hands, for^'i ; ; • ut of which 
I am to receive £3, is.?" 

" Yes, Miss Smithers. Will you be so kind as to sign 
the receipt ; the fact is that I have a good deal of business 
to attend to." 

" No, Mr. Meeson," said Augusta, rising to her feet and 
looking exceedingly handsome and imposing in her anger. 
" No ; I will not sign the receipt, and I will not take this 
cheque. And, what is more, I will not write you any more 
books. You have entrapped me. You have taken advan- 
tage of my ignorance and inexperience, and entrapped me 
so that for five years I shall be nothing but a slave to you, 
and, although I am now one of the most popular writers in 
the country, shall be obliged to accept a sum for my books 
upon which I cannot live. Do you know that yesti 
was offered a thousand pounds for the copyright of a book 
like ' Jemima's You ' ? — it's a large sum ; but I have the 
letter. Yes, and 1 have the book in manuscript now ; and 
if I could publish it 1 should be lifted out of poverty, to- 
gether with my poor little si.-t< r ! " and she gave a e 
" But," she went on, " I cannot publish it, and I will ;i"t 
let you have it and be treated like thi- : 1 had ratlx 1 
I will publish nothing for five years, ami I will write to 
the papers and say why — because I have been cheated, Mr. 
Meeson ! " 

" Cheated ! " thundered the great man. " !)<• car 
young lady ; mind what you are saying. I have a witness — 
Eustace, you hear, 'cheated! 1 Kustacc, 'cheated!' 

" I hear," said Eustace grimly. 



3 o MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

"Yes, Mr. Meeson, I said 'cheated;' and I will repeat 
it, whether I am locked up for it or not. Good morning, 
Mr. Meeson," and she bowed to him, and then suddenly 
burst into a flood of tears. 

In a minute Eustace was by her side. 

" Don't cry, Miss Smithers ; for Heaven's sake, don't. 
I can't bear to see it," he said. 

She looked up, her beautiful grey eyes full of tears, and 
tried to smile. 

" Thank you," she said ; " I am very silly, but I am so 

disappointed. If you oniy knew There, I will go. 

Thank you," and in another instant she had drawn herself 
up and left the room. 

"Well," said. Mr. Meeson, senior, who had been sitting 
at his desk with his great mouth open, apparently too much 
astonished to speak. " Well, there is a vixen for you. 
But she'll come round. I've known them to do that sort of 
thing before — there are one or two down there," and he 
jerked his thumb in the direction where the twenty and 
five tame authors sat each like a rabbit in his little hutch 
and did hat-work by the yard, " who carried on like that. 
But they are quiet enough now — they don't show much 
spirit now. I know how to deal with that sort of thing — 
half-pay and a double talc of copy — that's the ticket. Why, 
that girl will be worth fifteen hundred a year to the house. 
What do you think of it, young man, eh ? " 

" I think," answered his nephew, on whose good-tempered 
face a curious look of contempt and anger had gathered, 
" 1 think that you ought to be ashamed of yourself ! " 



CHAPTER II. 



IlUW EUSTACE WAS DIS1MIEKI1 




|HERE was a pause — a dreadful pause. The 

flash had left the cloud, but the answering 

thunder had not burst upon the ear. Mr. 

Meeson gasped. Then he took up the cheque 

which Augusta had thrown upon the tabic and slowly 

crumpled it. 

" What did you say, young man ? " he said at last, in 
a cold, hard voice. 

" I said that you ought to be ashamed of yourself," 
answered his nephew, standing his ground bravely ; " and, 
what is more, I meant it ! " 

"Oh ! Now will you be so kind as to explain exactly 
why you said that, and why you meant it?" 

" I meant it," answered his nephew, speaking in a 
full, strong voice, " because that girl was right when 
she said that you had cheated her, and you know that 
she was right. I have seen the accounts of ' Jemin 
Vow' — I saw them this morning -and you have ali< 
made more than a thousand pounds clear profit on I 
book. And then when she comes to ask you for son - 



32 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

thing over the beggarly fifty pounds which you doled out 
to her, you refuse, and offer her three pounds as her 
share of the translation rights — three pounds as against 
your eleven ! " 

" Go on," interrupted his uncle ; " pray go on." 
" All right ; I am going. That is not all : you actually 
avail yourself of a disgraceful trick to entrap this unfortu- 
nate girl into an agreement, whereby she becomes a literary 
bondslave for five years ! As soon as you see that she 
has genius, you tell her that the expense of bringing out 
her book, and of advertising up her name, &c, &c, &c, 
will be very great — so great, indeed, that you cannot under- 
take it, unless, indeed, she agrees to let you have the first 
offer of everything she writes for five years to come, at 
somewhere about a fourth of the usual rate of a successful 
author's pay — though, of course, you don't tell her that. 
You take advantage of her inexperience to bind her by this 
iniquitous contract, knowing that the end of it will be that 
you will advance her a little money and get her into your 
power, and then will send her down there to the Hutches, 
where all the spirit and originality and genius will be 
crushed out of her work, and she will become a hat-writer 
like the rest of them — for Meeson's is a strictly commercial 
undertaking, you know, and Meeson's public don't like 
genius, they like their literature dull and holy ! — and it's 
an infernal shame ! that's what it is, uncle ! " and the young 
man, whose blue eyes were by this time flashing fire, for 
he had worked himself up as he went along, brought his 
fist down with a bang upon the writing-table by way of 
emphasising his words. 

" I lave you done ? " said his uncle. 

"Yes, I've done; and I hope that I have put it plain." 

" Very well ; and now might I ask you, supposing that 



HOW EUSTACE WAS DISINHERI1 E I >. 

you should ever come to manage this business, if J 
sentiments accurately represent the system upon which 
would proceed ? " 

" Of course they do. I am not going to turn di 
for anybody." 

"Thank you. They seem to have taught you the art 
plain speaking up at Oxford — though, it appears," with a 
sneer, "they taught you very little else. Well, now it 
is my turn to speak ; and I tell you what it is, young 
man : you will either instantly beg my pardon for what 
you have said, or you will leave Meeson's for j_ 
and all." 

" I won't beg your pardon for speaking the truth." 
said Eustace hotly; "the fact is, that hen.- you never 
hear the truth: all these poor devils and ci I 

about you, and daren't call their souls their own. I 
shall be devilish glad to get out of this place, I can t> II 
you. I hate it. The place reeks of sharp pi 
money-making — money-making by fair means <>r foul." 

The elder man had, up till now, at all events to outv. 
appearance, kept his temper; but this last flower >ii^ 

English was altogether too much for one whom tin- i 
session of so much money had for many years shielded 
from hearing unpleasant truths put roughly. His 
grew like a devil's, his thick eyebrows contracted tb 
selves, and his pale lips quivered with fury. I 
seconds he could not speak, so great was his emol 
When, at length, he did, his voice was as thick ami laden 
with rage as a dense mist is with rain. 

'■ You impudent young ra-cal ! " he began, " you Ul 
ful foundling! Do you suppose that when my brotl 
you to starve — which was all that \ I 

*;ed you out of the gutter for this : that you should ! 



34 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

the insolence to come and tell me how to conduct my 
business ? Now, young man, I'll just tell you what it is. 
You can be off and conduct a business of your own on 
whatever principles you choose. Get out of Meeson's, sir ; 
and never dare to show your nose here again, or I'll give 
the porters orders to hustle you off the premises ! And, 
now, that isn't all. I've done with you, never you look to 
me for another sixpence ! I'm not going to support you 
any longer, I can tell you. And, what's more, do you know 
what I am going to do just now ? I'm going off to old Todd 
— that's my lawyer — and I'm going to tell him to make 
another will and to leave every farthing I have — and that 
isn't much short of two millions, one way and another — to 
Addison and Roscoe. They don't want it, but that don't 
matter. You sha'n't have it — no, not a farthing of it ; and 
I won't have a pile like that frittered away in charities and 
mismanagement. There now, my fine young gentleman, 
just be off and see if your new business principles will get 
you a living." 

" All right, uncle ; I'm going," said the young man 
quietly. " I quite understand what our quarrel means for 
me, and, to tell you the truth, I am not sorry. I have 
never wished to be dependent on you, or to have anything 
to do with a business carried on as Meeson's is. I have a 
hundred a year my mother left me, and, with the help of 
that and my education, I hope to make a living. Still, I 
don't want to part from you in anger, because you have 
been very kind to me at times, and, as you remind me, 
you picked me out of the gutter when I was orphaned or 
not far from it. So I hope you will shake hands before 
I go. 

" Ah ! " snarled his uncle ; " you want to pipe down now, 
do you? But that won't do. Off you go! and mind you 



HOW EUSTACE WAS DISINHERIT! 

don't set foot in Pompadour Hall" — Mr. Meeson's seat — 
" unless it is to get your clothes. Come, cut I " 

" You misunderstand me," said Eustace, with a touch of 
native dignity which became him very well. " IV 
we shall not meet again, and I did not wish to part in 
anger, that was all. Good morning." And he bowed and 
left the office. 

" Confound him ! " muttered his uncle as the door cl< 
" he's a good plucked one — showed spirit. But I'll si 
spirit, too. Meeson is a man of his word. Cut hitn off 
with a shilling ? not I ; cut him off with nothing at all ! 
And yet, curse it, I like the lad. Well, I've dune with 
him, thanks to that minx of a Smithers girl. Perhaps ! 
sweet on her? then they can go and starve tog< and 

be hanged to them ! She had better keep out of my v. 
for she shall smart for this, so sure as my name is Jonathan 
Meeson. I'll keep her up to the letter of th. 
and, if she tries to publish a book inside of this country 
out of it, I'll crush her — yes, I'll crush her, if it COS) 
five thousand to do it ! " and, with a snarl, he drop; 
fist heavily upon the table before him. 

Then he rose, put poor Augusta's agreement c •. 
back into the safe, which he shut with a savage snap, and 
proceeded to visit the various departments of fa 
lishment, and to make such hay therein as had 
before been dreamt of in the classic halls 

To this hour the clerks of the great house talk of I 
dreadful day with bated breath — for as bloody H- 
through the Greeks, so did the might on rage t: 

his hundred departments. In the very fir-t off 
a wretched clerk eating sardine sandwiches. With- 
moment's hesitation he took the sandwiches and threw them 
through the window. 



36 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

" Do you suppose I pay you to come and eat your filthy 
sandwiches here ? " he asked savagely. " There, now 
you can go and look for them ; and see you here : don't 
trouble to come back, you idle, worthless fellow. Off you 
go 1 and remember you need not send to me for a character. 
Now then — double quick ! " 

The unfortunate departed, feebly remonstrating, and 
Meeson, having glared round at the other clerks and 
warned them that unless they were careful — very careful 
— they would soon follow in his tracks, proceeded on his 
path of devastation. 

Presently he met an editor, No. 7 it was, who was 
bringing him an agreement to sign. He snatched it from 
him and glanced through it. 

" What do you mean by bringing me a thing like 
this ? " he said ; " it's all wrong." 

"It is exactly as you dictated it to me yesterday, sir/' 
said the editor indignantly. 

" What, do you dare to contradict me ? " roared Meeson. 
" Look here, No. 7, you and I had better part. Now, no 
words ; your salary will be paid to you till the end of the 
month, and if you would like to bring an action for wrong- 
ful dismissal, why, I'm your man. Good morning, No. 7 ; 
good morning." 

Next he crossed a courtyard where, by slipping stealthily 
round a corner, he came upon a jolly little errand boy, 
who was enjoying a solitary game of marbles. 

Whack came his cane across the seat of that errand 
boy's trousers, and in another minute he had followed 
the editor and the sandwich-devouring clerk. 

And so the merry game went on for half-an-hour or 
more, till at last Mr. Meeson was fain to cease his troub- 
ling, being too exhausted to continue his destroying course. 



HOW EUSTACE was DISINHERIT] 

But next morning there was promotion going "ii in th< 
great publishing house : eleven vacancil S had to b< 
hi led. 

A couple of glasses of brown sh< rry and ;i f« w & 
wiches, which he hastily swallowed at a neighbouring 
restaurant, quickly restored him, however; and, jumping 
into a cab, he drove post haste to his lawyers', Mes 
Todd & James. 

"Is Mr. Todd in?" he said to the managing clerk, who 
came forward bowing obsequiously to the richest man in 
Birmingham. 

" Mr. Todd will be disengaged in a few minutes, 
he said. " May I offer you the Times .' " 

"Damn the Times/" was the polite answer; "I don't 
come here to read newspapers. Tell Mr. Todd that I 
must see him at once, or else I shall go elscwhei 

"I am much afraid, sir" began the managing 

clerk. 

Mr. Mceson jumped up and grabbed his hat. " .' ■ 
then, which is it to be ? " he said. 

"Oh, certainly, sir; pray be seated," answered th<- 
manager in great alarm- -Meeson's business w.is not a 
thing to be lightly lost. "I will see Mr. Todd instantly," 
and he vanished. 

Almost simultaneously with his departure an old lady 
was unceremoniously bundled out of an inm i rq Ml, clutch- 
ing feebly at a reticule full of papers ami proclaiming loudly 
that her head was going round and round. Tin- pour old 
soul was just altering her will for the eighteenth time in 
air of a bran new charity, highl) i mmendi 

. alty; and to be suddenly shot from the 
sence of her lawyer into the outer darkness of the 
office, was really too much for her. 



38 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

In another minute, Mr. Meeson was being warmly, 
even enthusiastically, greeted by Mr. Todd himself. Mr. 
Todd was a nervous-looking, jumpy little man, who spoke 
in jerks and gushes in such a way as to remind one of 
a fire-hose through which water was being pumped inter- 
mittently. 

" How do you do, my dear sir ? Delighted to have 
this pleasure," he began with a sudden gush, and then sud- 
denly dried up as he noticed the ominous expression on 
the great man's brow. " I am sure I am very sorry that 
you were kept waiting, my dear sir ; but I was at the 
moment engaged with an excellent and most Christian 
testator " 



Here he suddenly jumped and dried up again, for Mr. 
Meeson, without the slightest warning, ejaculated: "Curse 
your Christian testator ! And look here, Todd, just you 
see that it does not happen again. I'm a Christian 
testator, too ; and Christians of my cut aren't accustomed 
to be kept standing about just like office-boys or authors. 
Sec that it don't happen again, Todd." 

" I am sure I am exceedingly grieved. Circum- 
stances " 

" Oh, never mind all that — I want my will." 

" Will — will Forgive me — a little confused, that's 

all. Your manner is so full of hearty old middle-age's 

kind of vigour " 

Here he stopped, more suddenly even than usual, for 
Mr. Meeson fixed him with his savage eye, and then 
jerked himself out of the room to look for the document 
in question. 

" Little idiot ! " muttered Meeson ; " I'll give him the 
sack, too, if he isn't more careful. By Jove ! why should 
I not have my own resident solicitor ? I could get a 



HOW 1 I M ACE WAS DISINHERIT] 

sharp hand with a dan 

a year, and I pay that old Todd quit' jo. Th< 

is a vacant place in the Hutches that 1 could turn . 

an office. Hang me, if I don't du it. I will 

little chirping grasshopper jump to some purpose, I'll 

warrant," and he chuckled at the id 

Just then Mr. Todd returned with the will, and ' 
he could begin to make any explanations his employer cut 
him short with a sharp order to read t I of it. 

This the lawyer went on to do. It 
and, with the exception of a few ting in 

all to about twenty thousand pounds, bequeathed the 
testator's vast fortune and i . including his (by far 

the largest) interest in the great publishing hou 
his palace, with the paint: ind other valuable contents, 

known as Pompadour Hall, to his nephew, E H, 

Meeson. 

"Very well," he said, when the reading was finish 
" now give it to me." 

Mr. Todd obeyed, and handed the document to 

tron, who deliberately rent it into fragments with 
strong fingers, and then completed its destruction by t 

g it with his big white teeth. lis done, he mix- 

little pieces up, threw them on the floor, and - 
them with an air of malignity that almost fright 
little Mr. Todd. 

" Now then," he said grimly. " there's an 
love; so let's on with the n< Take your 

receive my instructions for my will." 

Mr. Todd did as he was told. 

" I leave all my property, real .. 
divided in equal shares between my two partm 
Tom Addison and Cecil Spooner K 



4 o MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

short and sweet, and, one way and another, it means a 
couple of millions." 

" Good Heavens ! sir," jerked out Mr. Todd. " Why, 
do you mean to quite cut out your nephew — and the other 
legatees ? " he added, by way of an afterthought. 

" Of course I do ; that is, as regards my nephew. The 
legatees may stand as before." 

" Well, all I have to say," went on the little man, 
astonished into honesty, " is that it is the most shameful 
thing I ever heard of!" 

" Indeed, Mr. Todd, is it? Well, now may I ask you : 
am I leaving this property or are you ? Don't trouble 
yourself to answer that, however, but just attend. Either 
you draw up that, will at once, while I wait, or you say 
good-bye to about £2000 a year ; for that's what Mee- 
son's business is worth, I reckon. Now you take your 
choice." 

Mr. Todd did take his choice. In under an hour the 
will, which was very short, was drawn and engrossed. 

" Now then," said Meeson, addressing himself to Mr. 
Todd and the managing clerk, as he took the quill between 
his fingers to sign, "do you two bear in mind that at the 
moment I execute this will I am of sound mind, memory, 
and understanding. There you are; now do you two 
witness." 

• >•••• 

It was night, and King Capital, in the shape of Mr. 
Meeson, sat alone at dinner in his palatial dining-room 
at Pompadour. Dinner was over. The powdered footmen 
had d< parted with stately tread, and the head butler was 
just placing the decanters of richly coloured wine before 
this solitary lord of all. The dinner had been a melan- 
choly failure. Dish after dish, the cost of any one of which 




MR. UEESON TEABIM 



HOW EUSTACE WAS DISINHERIT] I ». 

would have fed a poor child for a month, had been brought 
up and handed to the master only to be found lank with 
and sent away. On that night Mr. Meeson had 
appetite. 

"Johnston," he said to the butler, when he was sure 
the footmen could not hear him, "has Mr. Eustace been 
here?" 

"Yes, sir." 

" Has he gone ? " 

" Yes, sir. He came to fetch his things, and then went 
away in a cab." 

"Where to?" 

"I don't know, sir. lie told the man to drive t" 
Birmingham." 

" Did he leave any message? " 

" Yes, sir; he bade me say that you should not be 
troubled with him again ; but that he was sorry that 
had parted from him in anger." 

" Why did you not give me that message before ? " 

" Because Mr. Eustace said I was not to give it un 
you asked after him." 

" Very good. Johnston ! " 

" Yes, sir." 

"You will give orders that Mr. Eustace's name is not to 
be mentioned in this house again. Any servant mentioning 
Mr. Eustace's name will be dismissed." 

" Very good, sir ; " and Johnston went. 

Mr. Meeson gazed round him. He looked at tl 
array of glass and silver, at the spot 
flowers. He looked at the walls hung with works 
which, whatever else they might be, were 
sive ; at the mirrors and the soft wax-light- ; at I 
mantelpieces and the bright warm tires (for it 



44 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

November) ; at the rich wall paper, and the soft, deep- 
hued carpet ; and reflected that they were all his. And 
then he sighed, and his coarse, heavy face sank in and 
grew sad. Of what use was this last extremity of luxury 
to him ? He had nobody to leave it to, and, to speak the 
truth, it gave him but little pleasure. Such pleasure as 
he had in life was derived from making money, not from 
spending it. The only times when he was really happy 
were when he sat in his counting-house, directing the 
enterprises of his vast establishment, and adding sovereign 
by sovereign to his enormous accumulations. That had 
been his one joy for forty years, and it was still 
his joy. 

And then he fell to thinking of his nephew, the only 
son of his brother whom he had once loved, before he lost 
himself in publishing books and making money, and sighed 
again. He had been attached to the lad in his own coarse 
way, and it was a blow to him to cut himself loose from 
him. But Eustace had defied him, and — what was worse — 
he had told him the truth, which he, of all men, could not 
bear. He had said that his system of trade was dishonest, 
that he took more than his due, and it was so. He knew 
it ; but he could not tolerate that it should be told him, and 
that his whole life should thereby be discredited, and even 
his accumulated gold tarnished — stamped as ill-gotten ; least 
of all could he bear it from his dependant. He was not 
altogether a bad man ; nobody is : he was only a coarse, 
vulgar tradesman, hardened and defiled by a long career 
of sharp dealing. At the bottom he had his feelings like 
other men, but he could not tolerate exposure or even con- 
tradiction ; therefore, he had revenged himself. And yet 
as he sat there, in solitary glory, he realised that to revenge 
does not bring happiness, and could even find it in his heart 



HOW EUSTACE WAS DISINHERIT! 47 

to envy the steadfast honesty that had defied him at the 
cost of its own ruin. 

Not that he meant to relent or alter his determination. 
Mr. Meeson never relented, and never changed his mind ; 
had he done so he would not at that moment hav< 
the master of two millions of money. 




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CHAPTER III. 



/417GC7S7V4'S LITTLE SISTER. 




|HEN Augusta left Meeson's she was in a very 
sad condition of mind, to explain which it will 
be necessary to say a word or two about that 
accomplished young lady's previous history. 
Her father had been a clergyman, and, like most clergy- 
men, not overburdened with the good things of this world. 
When Mr. Smithers — or, rather, the Rev. James Smithers 
—died he left behind him a widow and two children — 
Augusta, aged fourteen, and Jeannie, aged four. There 
had been two others, both boys, who had come into the 
world between Augusta and Jeannie, but they had both 
preceded their father to the land of shadows. Mrs. 
Smithers had, fortunately for herself, a life interest in a 
sum of £7000, which, being well invested, brought her in 
£350 a year ; and, in order to turn this little income to 
the best possible account and give her two girls all educa- 
tional opportunities possible under the circumstances, on 
her husband's death she moved from the village where 
he had for many years been curate, into the city of Bir- 
mingham. Here she lived in absolute retirement for some 



AUGUSTA'S LITTLE SISTER 

five years and then suddenly died, leaving the two girls, 
then respectively nineteen and nine years • mourn 

her loss, and, friendless as they w< re, to fight their way in 
the hard world. 

Mrs. Sraithers had been a saving woman, and, on her 

th, it was found that, after paying all debts, ti. 
remained a sum of £600 for the two girls to live on, 
nothing else; for their mother's fortune died with I 

•. . it will be obvious that the inl arising from 

£600 is not sufficient to support two young people, and 
therefore Augusta was f upon the principal. 

From an early age, however, she had shown a str 
literary tendency, and shortly after her m< death 

she published her first book, at her own - It ■ 

a dead failure, and co<t her fifty-two pounds, the balai 
between the profit and loss account. Afti ver, 

gusta recovered from this blow, and v 'Jemil 

Vow," which was 1 up by Meeson's ; and Strang 

may seem, proved the success of the year. ( H the nal 
of the agreement into which she entered with Mi the 

reader is already informed, and he will not th< 
surprised to learn that under its cruel provisions, notwith- 
standing her name and fame, Augusta was absolutely pro 
hibited from reaping the fruits of her success. S ould 

only publish with Meeson's, and at the fixed pay ol 

cent, on the advertised price of 1 k. Now, 

thing over three years had elapsed since ti ii of M 

and it will therefore be obvious that th- 
not much remaining of the £600 which she had left behind 
her. The two girls had, : lived ccoi ugh 

in a couple of small rooms in a back ieir 

expenses had been enormously in< I by t! 

illness, from a pulmonary complaint, of little Jeannic, now 



50 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

a child between twelve and thirteen years of age. On 
that very morning, Augusta had seen the doctor and been 
crushed into the dust by the expression of his conviction, 
that, unless her sister was moved to a warmer climate, for 
a period of at least a year, she would not live through the 
winter, and might die at any moment. 

Take Jeannie to a warmer climate! He might as well 
have told Augusta to take her to the moon. Alas, she had 
not the money and did not know where to turn to get it 1 
Reader, pray to Heaven that it may never be your lot to 
see your best beloved die for the want of a little miserable 
money wherewith to save her life ! 

It was in this terrible emergency that she had — driven 
thereto by her agony of mind — tried to get something 
beyond her strict and legal due out of Meeson's — Meeson's, 
that had made hundreds and hundreds out of her book and 
paid her fifty pounds. We know how she fared in that 
attempt. On leaving their office, Augusta bethought her 
of her banker. Perhaps he might be willing to advance 
something. It was a horrible task, but she determined to 
undertake it ; so she walked to the bank and asked to see 
the manager. He was out, but would be in at three o'clock. 
She went to a shop near and got a bun and glass of milk, 
and waited till she was ashamed, to wait any longer, and 
then walked about the streets till three o'clock. At 
the stroke of the hour she returned, and was shown into 
the manager's private room, where a dry, unsympathetic- 
looking little man was sitting before a big book. It was 
not the same man whom Augusta had met before, and her 
heart sank proportionately. 

What followed need not be repeated here. The manager 
listened to her faltering tale with a few stereotyped expres- 
sions of sympathy, and, when she had done, " regretted " 



AUGUS1 MS llll ll. SISTER. 

that speculative loans were contrary to the custom of the 
bank, and politely bowed her out. 

It v it o'clock upon drizzlinj 

noon, a November afternoon that hung like a living mis 

r the black slush of the Birmingham ts, and would 

in itself have sufficed to bring the lightest-hearted, happ 
mortal to the very gates of despair, when Augusta, wet, 

iried, and almost crying, at last entered the door of 
their little sitting-room. She came in very quietly, for 
the maid-of-all-work had met her in the passage and I 
her that Miss Jeannie was asleep. She had been cou. 

very much about dinner-time, but now she was 
asleep. 

- a fire in the grate, a small one, for the ■ 
was economised by means of two large tire-bricks, and 
on a table (Augusta's writing-table), placed at the further 
side of the room, was a paraffin-lamp turned low. Drawn 
up in front, but a little to one side of the fire, w. 
sofa, covered with red rep, and on the sofa lay a lair- 
haired little form, so thin and fragile that it looked like 
the ghost or outline of a girl, rather than a girl i 
it was Jeannie, her sick sister, and she was asl< 
ta stole softly up to look at her. It was a s\ 
little face that her eyes fell on, although it was so shock- 
ingly thin, with long curved lashes, delicate nostrils, and 
a mouth shaped like a bow. All the lines and groo. 
which the chisel of Pain knows so well how to carve, v. 
smoothed out of it now, and in their place lay the sha<: 
of a smile. 

^usta looked at her and clenched her 
lump rose in her throat, and 
tears. How could she get the money to save h- The 

r before a rich man, a man who was detestable to 



MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

had wanted to marry her, and she would have nothing to 
say to him. He had gone abroad, else she would have 
gone back to him and married him — at a price. Marry 
him ? yes she would marry him : she would do anything 
for money to take her sister away ! What did she care for 
herself when her darling was dying — dying for the want 
of two hundred pounds ! 

Just then Jeannie woke up, and stretched her arms out 
to her. 

" So you are back at last, dear," she said in her sweet 
childish voice. " It has been so lonely without you. Why, 
how wet you are! Take off your jacket at once, Gussie, or 

you will soon be as ill as " and here she broke out 

into a terrible fit "of coughing, that seemed to shake her 
tender frame as the wind shakes a reed. 

Her sister turned and obeyed, and then came and sat 
by the sofa and took the thin little hand in hers. 

"Well, Gussie, and how did you get on with the Printer- 
il " (this was her impolite name for the great Meeson) ; 
" will he give you any more money? " 

" No, dear ; we quarrelled, that was all, and I came 
nwny." 

"Then I suppose that we can't go abroad ?" 

Augusta was too moved to answer ; she only shook her 
head. The child buried her face in the pillow and gave a 
sob or two. Presently she grew quiet, and lifted it again. 
"Gussie, love," she said, "don't be angry, but I want to 
speak to you. Listen, my sweet Gussie, my angel. Oh, 
( 5ie, you don't know how I love you ! It is all of no good, 
it is useless struggling against it. I must die sooner or 
later ; though I am only twelve, and you think me such a 
child, I am old enough to understand that. I think," she 
added, after pausing to cough, " that pain makes one old: 



AUGUSTA'S Mil! I. SIS! ER. 55 

It- though I were fifty. Well, so you sec 1 may 

I ve up fighting against it and die at once. I am 
only a burden and an anxiety to you — I may 

once and go to sleep." 

" Don't, Jeannie! don't!" said her sister, in a sort 
cry ; "you are killing me ! " 

Jeannie laid her hot hand upon Augusta's arm. "Try 
and listen to me, dear," she said, "even it" it hurts, because 
I do so want to say something. Why should you be so 
frightened about me ? Can any place that I may go to be 
worse than this place ? Can I suffer more pain anvwl, 
or be more hurt when I see you crying? Think how 
wretched it has all been. There has only been one beauti- 
ful thing in our lives for years and years, and that was 
your book. Even when I am feeling worst — when my 
chest aches, you know — I grow quite happy when I think 
of what the papers wrote about you: the Times and the 
Saturday Review, and the Spectator, and the rest of them. 
They said that you had genius — true genius, you remem! 
and that they expected one day to see you at the head <>( 
the literature of the time, or near it. The Printer-d< vil 
can't take away that, Gussie. He can take the money, but 
he can't say that he wrote the book ; though," she added, 
with a touch of childish spite and vivacity, " I have no 
doubt that he would if he could. And then there were 
those letters from the great authors up in London ; y< 3, I 

.; think of them too. Well, dearest old girl, the best 
of it is that I know it to be all true. I know, I can't tell 
you how, that you will be a great woman in spite of all the 
Meesons in creation ; for somehow you will get out of his 

rer, and, if you don't, five years is not all one's life — 
at least, not if people have a life. At the worst, he can 
only take the money. And then, when you are y: .: 



56 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

and rich and famous, and more beautiful than ever, and 
when the people turn their heads as you come into the 
room, like we used to at school when the missionary came 
to lecture, I know that you will think of me (because you 
won't forget me as some sisters do), and of how, years and 
years before, so long ago that the time looks quite small 
when you think of it, I told you that it would be so just 
before I died." 

Here the girl, who had been speaking with a curious air 
of certainty, and with a gravity and deliberation extra- 
ordinary for one so young, suddenly broke off to cough. 
Her sister threw herself on her knees beside her, and, 
clasping her in her arms, implored her in broken accents 
not to talk of dying. Jeannie drew Augusta's golden head 
down on to her breast and stroked it. 

'Very well, Gussie, I won't say any more about it," 
she said; ''but it is no good hiding the truth, dear. I 
am tired of fighting against it; it is no good — none at all. 
Anyhow, we have loved each other very much, dear; and 

perhaps — somewhere else — we may again " And the 

brave little heart broke down, and, overcome by the pres- 
cience of approaching separation, they both sobbed bitterly 
upon the sofa. Presently there was a knock at the door, 
and Augusta sprang up and turned to hide her tears. It 
was the maid-of-all-work bringing the tea ; and, as she 
came blundering in, a sense of the irony of things forced 
itself into Augusta's soul. Here they were plunged into 
the most terrible sorrow, weeping at the inevitable approach 
of that chill end, and still appearances must be kept up, 
even befort.a maid-of-all-work. Society, even when repre- 
sented by a maid-of-all-work, cannot away with the intru- 
sion of domestic griefs, or any other griefs, and in our 
hearts we know it and act up to it. Far gone, indeed, 



. AUGUSTA'S l.l l l I E SISTER. 57 

must we he in mental or physical agony before w< abam 
the attempt to keep up appearances. 

Augusta drank a little tea and ate a very small bit of 
bread and butter. As in the case of Mr. Meeson, the 
events o[ the day had not tended to increase her appetite. 
Jeannie drank a little milk, but ate nothing. Winn this 
form had been gone through, and the maid-of-all-work had 
once more made her appearance and cleared the table, 
Ji annie spoke again. 

" Gus," she said, " I want you to put me to bed and 
then come and read to me out of ' Jemima's Vow ' — where 
poor Jemima dies, you know. It is the most beautiful 
thing in the book, and I want to hear it again." 

Her sister did as she wished, and taking clown " Jemima 
Vow," Jeannie's own copy as it was called, being the very 
first that had come into the house, she opened it at the ; 
Jeannie had asked for and read aloud, keeping her v 
steady as she could. As a matter of fact, however, the 
scene itself was as powerful as it was pathetic, and quite 
sufficient to account for any unseemly exhibitions of feel- 
ing on the part of the reader. However, she struggled 
through it till the last sentence was reached. It ran thi 
"And so Jemima stretched out her hand to him and -aid 
' Good-bye.' And presently knowing that she had now 
kept her promise, and being happy because she had done 
so, she went to sleep." 

"Ah!" murmured the blue-eyed child who listened. 
" I wish that I was as good as Jemima. But though I 
have no vow to keep I can say 'Good-bye,' and I can 
to sleep." 

<usta made no answer, and presently Jeanni< 
off. Her sister looked at her with eager affection. 
is giving up," she said to herself, "and, if she gives up, 



5 8 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

she will die. I know it, it is because we are not going 
away. I low can I get the money, now that that horrible 
man has gone? how can I get it?" and she buried her 
head in her hand and thought. Presently an idea struck 
her : she might go back to Mceson and eat her words, and 
sell him the copyright of her new book for ^"IOO, as the 
agreement provided. That would not be enough, however ; 
for travelling with an invalid is expensive ; but she might 
cltcr to bind herself over to him for a term of years as a 
tame author, like those who worked in the Hutches. She 
was sure that he would be glad to get her, if only he could 
do so at his own price. It would be slavery worse than 
any penal servitude, and even now she shuddered at the 
prospect of prostituting her great abilities to the necessities 
of such work as Meeson's made their thousands out of — 
work out of which every spark of originality was stamped 
into nothingness, as though it were the mark of the Beast. 
Yes, it would be dreadful — it would break her heart ; but 
she was prepared to have her heart broken and her genius 
wrung out of her by inches, if only she could get two 
hundred pounds wherewith to take Jeannie away to the 
South of France before the east wind came. Mr. Meeson 
would, no doubt, make a hard bargain — the hardest he 
could ; but still, if she would consent to bind herself for a 
sufficient number of years at. a sufficiently low salary, he 
would probably advance her a hundred pounds, besides the 
hundred for the copyright of the new book. 

And so, having made up her mind to the sacrifice, with 
a sigh she went to bed, and, wearied out with misery, to 
sleep. And even as she slept, a Presence that she could 
not see was standing near her bed, and a Voice that she 
could ml hear was calling through the gloom. Another 
mortal had bent low at the feet of that Unknown God 



AUGUSTAS I I 1 Hi. SISTER. sg 

whom men name Death, and been borne <>n hi> rushing 
pinions into the spaces of the Hid. One more human 
item lay still and stitV, one nunc account was closed for 
good or evil, the echo of uiie more tread had passed 
from the earth for ever. The old million -numbered 

gedy in which all must take a part had repeated itself 
once more down to its last and most awful scene. N 
the grim farce was played out, and the little actor Jeannie 
white in death ! 

Just at the dawn, Augusta dreamed that somebody with 
cold breath was breathing on her face, and woke up with 
a start and listened. Jeannie's bed was on the other side 
of the room, and she could generally hear her movements 
plainly enough, for the sick child was a restless sleeper. 
But now she could hear nothing, not even the faint vibra- 
tion of her sister's breath. The silence was absolute and 
appalling ; it struck tangibly upon her sense, as the dark- 
ness struck upon her eye-balls, and filled her with a numb, 
unreasoning terror. She slipped out of bed and struck a 
match. In another few seconds she was standing by 
white little bed, waiting for the wick of the 
candle to burn up. Presently the light grew. Jeannie 
was lying on her side, her white face resting on her whit- 
arm. Il> r ey< - were wide open ; but when Augusta held 
the candle near her she did not shut them or flinch. Her 
hand, too — oh, Heavens ! the fingers were nearly cold. 

Then Augusta understood, and lifting up her arms in 
agony, she shrieked till the whole house rang. 



CHAPTER IV. 



AUGUSTA'S DECISION. 




fN the second day following the death of poor 
little Jeannie Smithers, Mr. Eustace Meeson 
was strolling about Birmingham with his hands 
in his pockets, and an air of indecision on 
his; decidedly agreeable and gentlemanlike countenance. 
Eustace Meeson was not particularly cast down by the 
extraordinary reverse of fortune which he had recently 
experienced. He was a young gentleman of a cheerful 
nature ; and, besides, it did not so very much matter 
to him. He was in a blessed condition of celibacy, and 
had no wife and children dependent upon him, and he 
knew that it would go hard if, with the help of the 
one hundred a year that he had of his own, he did not 
manage, with his education, to get a living by hook or 
by crook. So it was not the loss of the society of his 
respected uncle, or of the prospective enjoyment of two 
millions of money, which was troubling him. Indeed, 
r he had once cleared his goods and chattels out of 
Pompadour Hall and settled them in a room in an hotel, 
he had not given the matter much thought. But he had 



AUGUSTA'S DECISIl IN 61 

given a good many thoughts to Augusta Smithers' g 

and, by way of getting an insight into her char- 

r, he had at once invested in a copy of "Jemima's 

Vow," thereby, somewhat against his will, swelling the 

is of M< 1 son's to the extent of several shillings. Now 
"Jemima's Vow," though simple and homely, was a most 
striking and powerful book, which fully deserved the 
reputation that it had gained, and it affected Eustace — 
who was in so much different from most young men of 
his age that he really did know the difference between 
good work and bad — more strongly than he would have 
liked to own. Indeed, at the termination of the story, 
what between the beauty of Augusta's pages, the men; 
of Augusta's eyes, and the knowledge of A 's wr< tigs, 

Mr. Eustace Meeson began to feel very much as though 
he had fallen in love. Accordingly, he went out walking, 
and, meeting a clerk whom he had known in the Meeson 
establishment — one of those who had been discharged on 
the same day as himself — he obtained from him Miss 
Smithers' address, and n to reflect as to whether or 

no he should call upon her. Unable to make up his mind, 
he continued his walk till he reached the quiet street 
where Augusta lived, and, suddenly perceiving the house 

which the clerk had told him, yielded to temptation 
and rang. 

The door was answered by the maid-of-a!l-work, who 
looked at him a little curiously, but said that Miss 
Smithers was in, and then conducted him to a door which 
was half open, and left him there in the kindly and 
able fashion that maids-of-all-work have. Eustace was per- 

.ed, and, looking through the door to see if any one v. 
in the room, discovered Augusta herself, dressed in some 
dark material, seated in a chair, her hands folded on her 



62 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

lap, her pale face set like a stone, and her eyes gazing 
into vacancy. He paused, wondering what could be the 
matter, and as he did so his umbrella slipped from his 
hand, making a noise that rendered it necessary for him to 
declare himself. 

Augusta rose as he advanced, and looked at him with 
a puzzled air, as though she were striving to recall his 
name or where she had met him. 

" I beg your pardon," he stammered, " I must introduce 
myself, as the girl has deserted me — I am Eustace 
Meeson." 

Augusta's face hardened at the name. "If you have 

come to me from Messrs. Meeson & Co." she said 

quickly, and then broke off, as though struck by some 
new idea. 

" Indeed, no," said Eustace. " I have nothing in 
common with Messrs. Meeson now, except my name ; and 
i have only come to tell you how sorry I was to see you 
treated as you were by my uncle. You remember, I was 
m the office ? " 

" Yes," she said, with a suspicion of a blush, " I 
!< member you were very kind." 

" Well, you see," he went on, " I had a great row with 
my uncle after that, and it ended in his turning me out of 
the place, bag and baggage, and informing me that he was 
Lining to cut me oft' with a shilling, which," he added 
n tli i lively, " he has probably done by now." 

" Do I understand you, Mr. Meeson, to mean that you 
quarrelled with your uncle about me and my books?" 

" Yes ; that is so," he said. 

" It was very chivalrous of you," she answered, looking 

at him with a new-born curiosity. Augusta was not 

ustomed to find knights-errant thus prepared, at such 



AUGUSTA'S DECISION. 63 

cost to themselves, to break a lance in her cause. Least 

all was she prepared to find that knight b< aring the 
hateful crest of Meeson — if, indeed, Meeson had a crest. 

" I ought to apolt'- -he went on presently, after an 

awkward pause, " for making such a scene in the ofl 
but I wanted money so dreadfully, and it was so hard to 
be refused. But it does not matter now. It is all done 
with." 

There was a dull, hopeless ring about her voice that 
awoke his curiosity. For what could she have wanted 
money, and why did she no longer want it f 

" I am sorry," he said. " Will yen tell me what you 
wanted it so much for J " 

>he looked at him, and then, acting upon impulse rather 
than reflection, said in a low voice — 

" If you like 1 will si: ;." 

lie bowed, wondering what was coming next. Rising 
from her chair, Augusta led the way to a door which 
opened out of the sitting-room, and gently turning the 
handle, entered, Eustace following her. The room was 
a small bed-room, of which the faded calico blind had 
been pulled down ; but as it happened, the sunlight, such 
5, beat full upon the blind, and came through 
it in yellow bai They fell upon the furniture of the 

bare little room ; they fell upon the iron bedstead, and 
upon something lying on it, which Ik- did not at first 
ootice, because it was covered with a sheet. 

Augusta walked up to the bed and gently lifted the 
revealing the sweet face, fringed round about with 
g den hair, of little Jeannie in her coffin. 

Eustace gave an exclamation, and started back violently. 
He had not been prepared for such a sight ; i.' leed, it 
was the first such sight that he had ever s^en, and it 



64 MR. MEESON'S WILE. 

shocked him beyond words. Augusta, familiarised as she 
was herself with the companionship of this beauteous clay- 
cold Terror, had forgotten that, suddenly and without 
warning, to bring the living into the presence of the dead, 
is not the wisest or the kindest thing to do. For, to the 
living, and more especially to the young, the sight of death 
is horrible. It is such a fearsome comment on their health 
and strength. Youth and strength are merry ; but who 
can be merry with yon dead thing in the upper chamber ? 
Take it away ! thrust it under ground ! it is an insult to us; 
it reminds us that we, too, die like others. What business 
has its pallor to show itself against our ruddy cheeks ? 

" I beg your pardon," whispered Augusta, realising some- 
thing of all this in a flash, " I forgot ; you do not know — 
you must be shocked ■ Forgive me ! " 

" Who is it? " he said, gasping to get back his breath. 

" My sister," she answered. " It was to try and save 
her life that I wanted the money. When I told her that I 
could not get it, she gave up and died. Your uncle killed 
her. Come." 

Greatly shocked, he followed her back into the sitting- 
room, and then — as soon as he recovered his composure — 
apologised for having intruded himself upon her in such 
an hour of desolation. 

" I am glad to see you," she said simply ; " I have seen 
nobody except the doctor once, and the undertaker twice. 
It is dreadful to sit alone hour after hour face to face 
with the irretrievable. H I had not been so foolish as 
to enter into that agreement with Messrs. Meeson, I could 
have got the money by selling my new book easily enough ; 
and I should have been able to take Jeannie abroad, and I 
believe that she would have lived — at least I hoped so. 
But now it is finished, and cannot be helped." 



AUGUSTA'S DECISION. 65 

" I wish I had known," blundered Eustace. " I could 
have lent you the money. I have a hundred and fifty 
pounds." 

" You are very good," she answered gently ; " but it is 
no use talking about it now, it is finished." 

Then Eustace rose and went away ; and it was not till 
he found himself in the street that he remembered that 
he had never asked Augusta what her plans were. Indeed, 
the sight of poor Jeannie had put everything else out of 
his head. However, he consoled himself with the reflec- 
tion that he could call again a week or ten days after the 
funeral. 

Two days later, Augusta followed the remains of her 
dearly loved sister to their last resting-place, and then 
came home on foot (for she was the only mourner), and 
sat in her black gown before the little fire, reflecting 
upon her position. What was she to do ? She could not 
stay in these rooms. It made her heart ache every time 
that her eyes fell upon the empty sofa opposite, dinted as 
it was with the accustomed weight of poor Jeannie's frame. 
Where was she to go, and what was she to do ? She 
might get literary employment, but then her agreement 
with Messrs. Meeson stared her in the face. That agree- 
ment was very widely drawn. It bound her to offer all 
literary work of any sort, that might come from her pen 
during the next five years, to Messrs. Meeson at the fixed 
rate of seven per cent, on the published price. Obviously, 
as it seemed to her, though perhaps erroneously, this clause 
might be stretched to include even a newspaper article ; 
and she knew the malignant nature of Mr. Meeson well 
enough to be quite certain that, if possible, this would be 
done. She might manage, it was true, to make a bare living 
out of her work, even at the beggarly pay of seven per 



66 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

cent. ; but Augusta was a person of spirit, and she was 
determined that she would rather starve than that Meeson's 
should again make huge profits out of her labour. This 
avenue being closed to her, she turned her mind elsewhere ; 
but, look where she might, the prospect was equally dark. 

Augusta's remarkable literary success had not been of 
much practical advantage to her, for in this country literary 
success does not mean so much as it does in some others. 
As a matter of fact, indeed, the average Briton has, at heart, 
a considerable contempt, if not for literature, at least fot 
those who produce it. Literature, in his mind, is connected 
with the idea of garrets and extreme poverty ; and there- 
fore, having the national respect for money, he in secret, 
if not in public, despises it. A tree is known by its fruits, 
says he. Let a man succeed at the Bar, and he makes 
thousands upon thousands a year, and is promoted to the 
highest offices in the State. Let a man succeed in art, and 
he will be paid one or two thousand pounds apiece for his 
most " pot-boilery " portraits. But your literary men — 
why, with a few fortunate exceptions, the best of them 
barely make a living. What can literature be worth, if a 
man can't make a fortune out of it ? So argues the Briton 
— no doubt with some of his sound common-sense. Not 
that he has no respect for genius. All men bow to true 
genius, even when they fear and envy it. But he thinks 
a good deal more of genius dead than genius living. That 
is a thing to revile and throw stones at. However this 
may be, there is no doubt but that if through any cause 
— such, for instance, as the sudden discovery by the great 
and highly civilised American people that the eighth com- 
mandment was probably intended for the protection of 
authors, amongst the. rest of the world — the pecuniary re- 
wards of literary labour should be put more upon an equality 




" Augusiu. genii} liitcxl ine sheet, revealing uie sweet iai_c oi little Jeannie in her 
coffin.— Page 63." 



AUGUSTA'S DECISION. 

with those of other trades, literature — as a profession — will 
go up many steps in popular esteem. At present, if a member 
of a family has betaken himself to the high and hono 
calling of letters (for, surely, it is both), his friends and re- 
lations are apt to talk about him in a shy and diffident, not to 
apologetic, manner ; much as they would had he adopted 
another sprt of book-making as a means of livelihood. 

Thus it was that, notwithstanding her success, Augusta 
had nowhere to turn in her difficulty. She had absolutely 
no literary connection. Nobody had called upon her, or 
sought her out in consequence of her book. One or t 
authors in London, and a few unknown people from dif- 
ferent parts of the country and abroad, had written to her 
— that was all. Had she lived in town it might have been 
different ; but, unfortunately for her, she did not. 

The more she thought, the less clear did her path 
become ; until, at last, she found inspiration. Why not 
leave England altogether ? There was nothing to keep her 
here. She had a cousin — a clergyman — in New Zealand, 
whom she had never seen, but who had read "Jemin 
Vow," and written her a kind letter about it. That 
the one delightful thing about writing books : one made 
friends all over the world. Surely he would take ln-r in 
for a while, and put her in the way of earning a li . 
where Meeson would not be to molest her ? Why should 
she not go? She had twenty pounds left, and the furni- 
ture (which included an expensive invalid chair; and b<< 
would fetch another thirty or so — enough to pay for a 
second-class passage and leave a few pounds in her pocket. 
At the worst it would be a change, and she could n<>: 
through more there than she did here, so that wry night 
she sat down and wrote to her clergyman cousin. 



CHAPTER V. 



THE R.M.S. "KANGAROO." 




|T was on a Tuesday evening that a mighty 
vessel steamed majestically out of the mouth 
of the Thames, and shaped her imposing 
course straight towards the setting sun. Many 
people will remember reading descriptions of the steam- 
ship Kangaroo, and being astonished at the power of 
her engines, the beauty of her fittings, and the extraor- 
dinary speed — about eighteen knots — which she developed 
in her trials, with an unusually low expenditure of coal. 
For the benefit of those who have not, however, it may 
be stated that the Kangaroo, " The Little Kangaroo," 
as she was ironically named among sailor men, was the 
very latest development of the science of modern ship- 
building. Everything about her, from the electric light 
and boiler tubes up, was on a new and patent system. 

Four hundred feet and more she measured from stem 
to stern, and in that space were crowded and packed all 
the luxuries of a palace, and all the conveniences of an 
American hotel. She was a beautiful and a wonderful 
thing to look on ; as, with her holds full of costly mer- 



THE R.M.S. "KANGARCM I 71 

chandise, and her d - crowded with her living freij 
of about a thousand human be: steamed slowly 

out to sea, as though loth to leave the land when 
born. But presently she seemed to gather up h< 1 
and to grow conscious of the thousands and I 
miles of wide tossing seas, which ed between her 

and the far-off harbour where her mighty heart should 
cease from beating and be for a while at rest. Quicker 
and quicker she sped along, and spurned the churning 
water from her swift sides. She was running under a 
full head of steam now, and the coast-line of England 
grew faint and low in the faint, low light, till at last it 
almost vanished from the gaze of a tall, slim girl, v. 
stood forward, clinging to the starboard bulwark netti 
and looking with deep grey eyes across the waste of 
waters. Presently Augusta, for it was she, could see the 
shore no more, and turned to watch the other pas- 
and think. She was sad at heart, poor girl, and felt what 
she was — a very waif upon the sea of life. Not t; 
had much to regret upon the vanished coast-line. A little 
g ve with a white cross over it — that was all. She had 
left no friends to weep for her, none. But 
thought it, a recollection rose up in her mind of 1 
Meeson's pleasant, handsome face, and of his kind 
and with it came a pang as she reflected that, in all 
probability, she should never see the one nor hear the 
other again. Why, she wondered, had he- 
see her again ? She should have liked to bid him " 
bye," and had half a mind to send him a note and tell him 
of her going. This, on second thoughts, hov. 
had decided not to do; for one tl: 
his address, and — well, there was an end of it. 
Could she by the means of clairvoyance ha. 



72 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

Eustace's face and heard his words, she would have 
regretted her decision. For even as that great vessel 
plunged on her fierce way right into the heart of the 
gathering darkness, he was standing at the door of the 
lodging-house in the little street in Birmingham. 

" Gone ! " he was saying. " Miss Smithers gone to 
New Zealand ! What is her address ? " 

" She didn't leave no address, sir," replies the dirty 
maid-of-all-work with a grin. " She went from here two 
days ago, and was going on to the ship in Lonaon." 

" What was the name of the ship ? " he asks, in despair. 

" Kan — Kon — Conger-eel," replies the girl in triumph, 
and shuts the door in his face. 

Poor Eustace ! he had gone to London to try and get 
some employment, and having, after some difficulty, suc- 
ceeded in obtaining a billet as reader in Latin, French, and 
old English to a publishing house of good repute, at the 
salary of ;£i8o a year, he had hurried back to Birmingham 
for the sole purpose of seeing Miss Augusta Smithers, 
with whom, if the whole truth must be told, he had, to 
his credit be it said, fallen deeply, truly, and violently in 
love. Indeed, so far was he in this way gone, that he 
determined to make all the progress that he could, and 
if he thought that there was any prospect of success, 
to declare his passion. This was, perhaps, a little pre- 
mature ; but then in these matters people are apt to be 
more premature than is generally supposed. Human 
nature is very swift in coming to conclusions in matters 
in which that strange mixture we call the affections are 
involved ; perhaps because, although the conclusion is not 
altogether a pleasing one, the affections, at any rate in their 
beginning, are largely dependent on the senses. 

Pity a poor young man ! To come from London to 




o 






-= 



^ 



-3 

u 



*-*> 



THE R.M.s. "KANGAROO." 75 

Birmingham to woo one's grey-eyed mistress, in a third 
class carriage too, and find her gone to New Zealand, 
whither circumstances prevented him from following her, 
without leaving a word or a line, or even an address 
behind her ! It was too bad. W< II, there was no remedy 
in the matter ; so he walked to the railway station, and 
groaned and swore all the way back to London. 

Augusta on board the Kangaroo was, however, in 
utter ignorance of this act of devotion on the part of her 
admirer ; indeed, she did not even know that he was her 
admirer. Feeling a curious sinking sensation within her, 
she was about to go below to her cabin, which she shared 
with a lady's-maid, not knowing whether to attribute it to 
sentimental qualms incidental to her lonely departure from 
the land of her birth, or to other qualms connected with 
a first experience of life upon the ocean wave. About 
that moment, however, a burly quartermaster addressed 
her in gruff tones, and informed her that if she wanted to 
see the last of " hold Halbion," she had better go aft a 
bit, and look over the port side, and she would see the 
something or other light. Accordingly, more to prove to 
herself that she was not sea-sick than for any other 
reason, she did so ; and, standing as far aft as the second- 
class passengers were allowed to go, stared at the quick 
flashes of the lighthouse as, second by second, they sent 
their message across the great waste of sea. 

As she stood there, holding on to a stanchion to steady 
herself, for the vessel, large as she was, had begun to - 
a bit of a roll on, she was suddenly aware of the bulky 
figure of a man, which came running, or rather reeling, 
against the bulwarks alongside of her, where it — or rath< r 
he — was instantly and violently ill. Augusta was, nut 
unnaturally, almost horrified into following the figure's 



7 6 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

example, when suddenly, growing faint or from some 
other cause, it loosed its hold and rolled into the scuppers, 
where it lay feebly swearing. Augusta, obeying a tender 
impulse of humanity, hurried forward and stretched out 
the hand of succour, and presently, between her help and 
that of the bulwark nettings, the man struggled to his feet. 
As he did so, his face came close to hers, and in the dim 
light she recognised the fat coarse features, now blanched 
with misery, of Mr. Meeson, the publisher. There was 
no doubt about it, it was her enemy : the man whose 
behaviour had indirectly, as she believed, caused the death 
of her little sister. She dropped his hand with an excla- 
mation of disgust and dismay, and as she did so he 
recognised who she was. 

" Hullo ! " he said, with a faint and rather feeble attempt 
to assume his fine old crusted publishing-company manners. 
" Hullo ! Miss Jemima — Smithers, I mean ; what on earth 
are you doing here ? " 

" I am going to New Zealand, Mr. Meeson," she answered 
sharply ; " and I certainly did not expect to have the plea- 
sure of your company on the voyage." 

" Going to New Zealand," he said, " are you ? Why, 
so am I ; at least, I am going there first, then to Australia. 
What do you mean to do there — try and run round our 
little agreement, eh ? It won't be any good, I tell you 
plainly. We have our agents in New Zealand, and a house 
in Australia, and if you try to get the better of Meeson's 

there, Meeson's will be even with you, Miss Smithers 

Oh, Heavens ! I feel as though I were coming to 
pieces." 

" Don't alarm yourself, Mr. Meeson," she answered, " I 
am not going to publish any more books at present." 

" That is a pity," he said, " because your stuff is good 



THE R.M.S. "KANGAROO." 77 

selling stuff. Any publisher would find money in it. I 
suppose you are second-class, Miss Smithers, so we sha'n't 
see much of each other; and, perhaps, if we should meet, 
it might be as well if we didn't seem to have any acquaint- 
ance. It don't look well for a man in my position to know 
second-class passengers, especially young lady passengers 
who write novels." 

"You need not be afraid, Mr. Meeson ; I have no wish 
to claim your acquaintance," said Augusta. 

At this point, her enemy was taken violently worse 
again, and, being unable to bear the sight and sound of his 
writhing and groaning, she fled forward ; and, reflecting on 
this strange and awkward meeting, went down to her own 
berth, where, with lucid intervals, she remained helpless 
and half stupid for the next three days. On the fourth 
day, however, she reappeared on deck quite recovered, and 
with an excellent appetite. She had her breakfast, and 
then went and sat forward in as quiet a place as she could 
find. She did not want to see Mr. Meeson any more, and 
she did want to escape from the stories of her cabin-mate, 
the lady's-maid. This good person would, after the manner 
of her kind, insist upon repeating to her a succession of 
histories connected with members of the families with whom 
she had lived, many of which were sufficient to make the 
hair of a respectable young lady like Augusta stand posi- 
tively on end. No doubt they were interesting to her in 
her capacity of a novelist ; but, as they were all of the 
same colour, and as their tendency was to absolutely destroy 
any belief she might have in virtue as an inherent quality 
in highly developed woman, or honour in man, Augusta 
soon wearied of these chroniques scaudaleuses. So she 
went forward, and was sitting looking at the " white horses " 
chasing each other across the watery plain, and reflecting 



78 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

upon what the condition of mind of those ladies whose 
histories she had recently heard would be if they knew that 
their most secret, and in some cases disgraceful and tragic, 
love affairs were the common talk of a dozen servants'-halls, 
when suddenly she was astonished by the appearance of a 
splendid official bearing a book. At first, from the quantity 
of gold lace with which his uniform was adorned, Augusta 
took him to be the captain ; but it presently transpired 
that he was only the chief steward. 

" Please, Miss," he said, touching his hat and holding 
out the book in his hand towards her, " the captain sends 
his compliments, and wants to know if you are the young 
lady who wrote this." 

Augusta glanced at the work. It was a copy of 
"Jemima's Vow." Then she replied that she was the 
writer of it, and the steward vanished. 

Later in the morning came another surprise. The 
gorgeous official again appeared, touched his cap, and 
said that the captain desired him to say that orders had 
been given to have her things moved to a cabin further 
aft. At first Augusta demurred to this, not from any love 
of the lady's-maid, but because she had a truly British 
objection to being ordered about. 

"Captain's orders, Miss," said the man, touching his 
cap again ; and she yielded. 

Nor had she any cause to regret doing so ; for, to her 
huge delight, she found herself moved into a charming 
deck-cabin on the starboard side of the vessel, some little 
way abaft the engine-room. It was evidently an officer's 
cabin, for there, over the head of the bed, was the picture 
of the young lady he adored, and also some neatly fitted 
shelves of books, a rack of telescopes, and other seaman- 
like contrivances. 



THE R.M.S. "KANGAROO." ; . 

"Am I to have this cabin to myself ?" asked Augusta 
of the steward. 

" Yes, Miss; those are the captain's orders. It is Mr. 
Jones's cabin. Mr. Jones is the second officer; but he 
lias turned in with Mr. Thomas, the first officer, and given 
up the cabin to you." 

" I am sure it is very kind of Mr. Jones," murmured 
Augusta, not knowing what to make of this turn of fortune. 
But surprises were not to end there. A few minutes 
afterwards, just as she was leaving the cabin, a gentleman 
in uniform came up, in whom she recognised the captain. 
He was accompanied by a pretty fair-haired woman very 
becomingly dressed. 

"Excuse me; Miss Smithers, I believe?" he said, with 
a bow. 

" Yes." 

" I am Captain Alton. I hope you like your new cabin. 
Let me introduce you to Lady Holmhurst, wife of Lord 
Holmhurst, the New Zealand Governor, you know. Lady 
Holmhurst, this is Miss Smithers, whose book you were 
talking so much about." 

" Oh ! I am delighted to make your acquaintance, Miss 
Smithers," said the great lady, in a manner that evidently 
was not assumed. " Captain Alton has promised that I 
shall sit next to you at dinner, and then we can have a 
good talk. I don't know when I have been so much de- 
lighted with anything as 1 was with your book. I have 
read it three times; what do you think of that for a busy 
woman ? " 

" I think there is some mistake," said Augusta, hurriedly 
and with a slight blush. " 1 am a second-class passenger 
on board this ship, and therefore cannot have the pleasure 
of sitting next to Lady Holmhurst." 



80 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

" Oh, that is all right, Miss Smithers," said the captain, 
with a jolly laugh. " You are my guest, and I shall take 
no denial." 

" When for once in our lives we find genius, we are not 
going to lose the opportunity of sitting at its feet," added 
Lady Holmhurst, with a little movement towards her which 
was neither curtsey nor bow, but rather a happy combina- 
tion of both. The compliment was, Augusta felt, sincere, 
however much it exaggerated the measure of her poor 
capacities, and, putting other things aside, coming as it 
did from one woman to another, was peculiarly graceful 
and surprising. She blushed and bowed, scarcely knowing 
what to say, when suddenly Mr. Meeson's harsh tones, 
pitched just now in a respectful key, broke upon her ear. 
Mr. Meeson was addressing no less a person than Lord 
Holmhurst, G.C.M.G. Lord Holmhurst was a stout, short, 
dark little man, with a somewhat pompous manner, and a 
kindly face. He was a Colonial Governor of the first 
water, and perfectly aware of the fact. 

Now a Colonial Governor, even though he be a G.C.M.G., 
is not a name to conjure with when he is at home, and 
does not fill an exclusive place in the eye of the English 
world. There are many Colonial Governors in the present 
and past tense to be found in the purlieus of South Ken- 
sington, where their presence creates no unusual excite- 
ment. But when one of this honourable corps sets foot 
upon the vessel destined to bear him to the shores that 
he shall rule, all changes. He puts off the body of the 
ordinary betitled individual, and puts on the body of the 
celestial brotherhood. In short, from being nobody out of 
the common he becomes, and very properly so, a great 
man. Nobody knew this better than Lord Holmhurst, 
and, to a person fond of observing such things, nothing 



THE R.M.S. "KANGAROO." Si 

could have been more curious to notice than the small, 
but gradual increase in the pomposity of his manner, 
the great ship day by day steamed further from England 
and nearer to the country where he was King. It went 
up, degree by degree, like a thermometer which is taken 
down into the bowels of the earth or gradually removed 
into the sunlight. At present, however, the thermometei 
was only rising. 

" I was repeating, my Lord," said the harsh voice of Mr. 
Meeson, " that the principle of an hereditary peerage is 
the grandest principle our country has yet developed. It 
gives us something to look forward to. In one generation 
we make the money ; in the next we take the title which 
the money buys. Look at your lordship. Your lordship 
in now in a proud position ; but, as 1 have underst 
your lordship's father was a trader like me." 

" Hum ! — well, not exactly, Mr. Meeson," broke in Lord 
Holmhurst. "Dear me, 1 wonder who that exceeding]} 
nice-looking girl Lady Holmhurst is talking to can be ? " 

" Now, your lordship, to put a case," went on the re- 
morseless Meeson, who, like most people of his stamp, had 
an almost superstitious veneration for the aristocracy, " I 
have made a great deal of money, as I do not mind telling 
your lordship; what is there to prevent my successor — 
supposing I have a successor — from taking advantage of 
that money, and rising on it to a similar position to that 
so worthily occupied by your lordship 

" Exactly, Mr. Meeson. A most excellent idea for your 
successor. Excuse me, but I see Lady Holmhurst beckon- 
ing to me." And he fled precipitately, -till followed by 
Mr. Meeson. 

"John, my dear," said Lady Holmhurst, " I want to 
introduce you to Miss Smithers — ///'• Miss Smithers whom 



82 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

we have all been talking about, and whose book 3'ou have 
been reading. Miss Smithers, my husband ! " 

Lord Holmhurst, who, when he was not deep in the 
affairs of State, had a considerable eye for a pretty girl — 
and what man worthy of the name has not ? — bowed most 
politely, and was proceeding to tell Augusta, in very charm- 
ing language, how delighted he was to make her acquaint- 
ance, when Mr. Meeson arrived on the scene and saw 
Augusta for the first time. Quite taken aback at finding 
her, apparently upon the very best of terms with people 
of such quality, he hesitated to consider what course to 
adopt ; whereon Lady Holmhurst mistaking his hesitation, 
in a somewhat formal way, for she was not very fond of 
Mr. Meeson, went on to introduce him. Thereupon, all 
in a moment, as we do sometimes take such resolutions, 
Augusta came to a determination. She would have nothing 
more to do with Mr. Meeson — she would repudiate him 
then and there, come what would of it. 

So, as he advanced upon her with outstretched hand, 
she drew herself up, and in a cold and determined voice 
said, "1 already know Mr. Meeson, Lady Holmhurst; and 
I do not wish to have anything more to do with him. Mr. 
Meeson has not behaved well to me." 

" 'Pon my word," murmured Lord Holmhurst to himself, 
" I don't wonder she has had enough of him. Sensible 
young woman, that ! " 

Lady Holmhurst looked a little astonished and a little 
amused. Suddenly, however, a light broke upon her. 

" Oh ! I see," she said. " I suppose that Mr. Meeson 
published 'Jemima's Vow.' Of course that accounts for it. 
Why, I declare there is the dinner-bell ! Come along, Miss 
Smithers, or we shall lose the place that the captain has 
promised us." And, accordingly, they went, leaving Mr. 



THE R.M.S. "KANGAROO." 

Meeson, who had not yet fully realised the unprecedented 
nature of the position, positively gasping on the deck. 
And on board the Kangaroo then- were no clerks and 
editors on whom he could wreak his wrath ! 

"And now, my dear Miss Smithers," said Lady Holm- 
hurst, when, dinner being over, they were sitting together 
in the moonlight, near the wheel, "perhaps you will tell 
me why you* don't like Mr. Meeson, whom, by the v. 
I personally detest. But don't, if you don't wish to, you 
know." 

But Augusta did wish to, and then and there she- 
poured her whole sad story into her new-found friend's 
sympathetic ear ; and glad enough the poor girl was 
to find a confidante to whom she could unbosom her 
sorrows. 

" Well, upon my word ! " said Lady Holmhurst, when 
she had listened with tears in her eyes to the history 
of poor little Jeannie's death, " upon my word, of all the 
horrid men I ever heard of, I think that this publisher of 
yours is the worst ! I will cut him, and get my hus- 
band to cut him too. But no, I have a better plan than 
that. He shall tear up that agreement, so sure as my 
name is Bessie Holmhurst ; he shall tear it up, or — 

or" and she nodded her little head with an air of 

infinite wisdom. 





CHAPTER VI. 
MR. TOMBEY GOES FORWARD. 
ROM th.it day forward, the voyage on the Kan- 



garoo was, until the last dread catastrophe, a 
very happy one for Augusta. Lord and Lady 
Holmhurst made much of her, and all the rest 
of the first-class passengers followed suit, and soon she 
found herself the most popular character on board. The 
two copies of her book that there were on the ship were 
passed on from hand to hand, till they would hardly hang 
together, and, really, at last, she got quite tired of hearing 
of her own creations. But this was not all ; Augusta was, 
it will be remembered, an exceedingly pretty woman, and 
melancholy as the fact may seem, it still remains a fact 
that a pretty woman is in the eyes of most people a more 
interesting object than a man, or than a lady who is not 
" built that way." Thus it came to pass that what between 
her youth, her beauty, her talent, and her misfortunes — 
for Lady Holmhurst had not exactly kept that history to 
herself — Augusta was all of a sudden elevated into the 
position of a perfect heroine. It really almost frightened 
the poor girl, who had been accustomed to nothing but 



MR. TOMBEY GOES I ORWARD. 8 5 

sorrow, ill-treatment, and grinding poverty, to suddenly 

find herself in this strange position, with every man 
board that great \< ssel .it her beck and call. But she was 
human, and, therefore, of course, she enjoyed it. It is 
oething when one has been wandering for hour aft* r 
hour in the w<.t and melancholy night, suddenly t<j 
the fair dawn breaking and burning overhead, and to 
know that the worst is over, for now there will be light 
whereby to set our feet. It is something, even to the 
most Christian soul, to utterly and completely triumph over 
one who had done all in his power to crush and destroy 
you ; whose grasping greed has indirectly been th< 
of the death of the person you loved best in the whole- 
round world. And Augusta did triumph. As the story of 
Mr. Meeson's conduct to her got about, the little society 
of the ship — which was, after all, a very fair example 
of society in miniature — fell away from this publishing 
prince, and not even the jingling of his money-bags could 
hue it back. He the great, the practically omnipotent, 
the owner of two millions, and the hard master of hun- 
dreds upon whose toil he battened, was practically cut. 
Even the clerk, who was going out on a chance of getting 
a place in a New Zealand bank, would have nothing to 
say to him. And, what is more, he felt it even m 
than an ordinary individual would have done. He, the 
" I'rinter-devil," as poor little Jeannie used to call him, 
to be slighted and flouted by a pack of people whom 
could buy up three times over, and all on account 
wr< authoress — an authoress, if you plea.- It 

made Mr. Meeson very wild — a state of affairs which 
brought to a climax when one morning Lord Hohnhu: 
who had for several days been showing a gi iike 

to his society, actually almost cut him dead ; that is, he 



86 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

did not notice his outstretched hand, and passed him with 
a slight bow. 

" Never mind, my Lord — never mind ! " muttered Mr. 
Meeson after that somewhat pompous but amiable noble- 
man's retreating form. " We'll see if I can't come square 
with you. I'm a dog who can pull a string or two in the 
English press, I am ! Those who have the money and 
have got a hold of people, so that they must write what 
they tell them, ain't the sort to be cut by any Colonial 
Governor, my Lord ! " And in his anger he fairly shook 
his fist at the unconscious peer. 

" Seem to be a little out of temper, Mr. Meeson," said a 
voice at his elbow, the owner of which was a big young 
man with hard but kindly features and a large moustache. 
"What has the Governor been doing to you? " 

" Doing, Mr. Tombey ? He's been cutting me, that's 
all — me, Meeson ! — cutting me dead, or something like it. 
I held out my hand, and he looked right over it, and 
marched by." 

"Ah!" said Mr. Tombey, who was a wealthy New 
Zealand landowner ; " and now, why do you suppose he 
did that?" 

"Why? I'll tell you why. It's all about that girl." 

"Miss Smithers, do you mean?" said Tombey the big, 
with a curious flash of his deep-set eyes. 

" Yes, Miss Smithers. She wrote a book, and I bought 
the book for fifty pounds, and stuck a clause in that she 
should give me the right to publish anything she wrote for 
five years at a price— a common sort of thing enough in 
one way and another, when you are dealing with some 
idiot who don't know any better. Well, as it happened, 
this book sold like wildfire ; and, in time, the young lady 
• comes to me and wants more money, -wants to get out of 



MR. TOMBEY GOES 1 ORWARD. 

the hanging clause in the . :nt, want . thing, like 

a female Oliver Twist; and when I say, ' No, you don't/ 
loses her temper and makes a scene. And it turns out 
that what she wanted the money for was to take a sick 
sister, or cousin, or aunt, or some one, out of England ; and 
when she could not i.\o it, and the relation died, th- n 
emigrates, and goes and tells the people on board ship that 
it is all my' fault." 

" And I suppose that that is a conclusion which you do 
not feel drawn to, Mr. Meeson ? " 

" No, Tombey, I don't. Business is business ; and if I 
happen to have got to windward of the young woman, why, 
so much the better for me. She's getting her e.\j>< ri< 
that's all ; and she ain't the first, ami won't be tin- last. 
But if she goes saying much more about me, I go for her 
for slander, that's sure." 

" On the legal ground that the greater the truth, the 
greater the libel, 1 presume ? " 

" Confound her ! " went on Meeson, without noticing his 
remark, and contracting his heavy eyebrows, "there's no 
end to the trouble she has brought on me. I quarrelled 
with my nephew about her, and now she's dragging my 
name through the dirt here, and I'll bet the story will go 
all over New Zealand and Australia." 

"Yes," said Mr. Tombey, "I fancy you will find it 
take a lot of choking; and now, Mr. Meeson, with your 
permission I will say a word, and try ami throw a 
light upon a very perplexing matter. It never seems to 
have occurred to you what you are, so I may as 
put it to you plainly. If you are not a thief, you 
at least, a very well-coloured imitation. 1 take a 

girl's book and make hundreds upon hundreds it, 

and give her fifty. You tie her down, so as to provide 



88 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

for successful swindling of the same sort during future 
years, and then, when she comes to beg a few pounds 
of you, you show her the door. And now you wonder, 
Mr. Meeson, that respectable people will have nothing 
to do with you ! Well, I tell you, my opinion is that 
the only society to which you would be really suited 
is that of a cow-hide. Good-morning," and the large 
young man walked off, his very mustachios curling with 
wrath and contempt. Thus, for a second time, did the 
great Mr. Mecsor hear the truth from the lips of babes 
and sucklings, and the worst of it was that he could not 
disinherit Number Two as he had Number One. 

Now this, it is obvious, was very warm, and indeed exagge- 
rated advocacy on the part of Mr. Tombey, who, being called in 
to console and bless, cursed with such extraordinary vigour. 
It may even strike the discerning reader — and all readers, 
or, at least, nearly all readers, are of course discerning : fat 
too much so, indeed — that there must have been a reason 
for it ; and the discerning reader will be right. Augusta's 
grey eyes had been too much for Mr. Tombey, as they had 
been too much for Eustace Meeson before him. His 
passion had sprung up and ripened in that peculiarly rapid 
and vigorous fashion that passions affect on board ship. A 
passenger-steamer is Cupid's own hot-bed, and in this way 
differs from a sailing-ship. On the sailing-ship, indeed, 
the preliminary stages are the same. The seed roots 
as strongly, and grows and flowers with vigour ; but 
here comes the melancholy part — it withers and decays 
with equal rapidity. The voyage is too long. Too much 
is mutually revealed. The matrimonial iron cannot be 
struck while it is hot, and long before the weary ninety 
days are over it is once more cold and black, or at the best 
glows with but a feeble heat. But on the steam-ship there 



MR. TOMBEY GOES 1 < >k\\'.\kl>. S 9 

is no time for this, as any traveller knows. Myself — I, 
the historian — have with my own eyes seen a couple meet 
for the first time at Madeira, get married at the Cape, and 
go on as man ami wife in the same vessel to Natal. And, 
therefore, it came to pass that this very evening, a touch- 
ing, and on the whole melancholy, little scene was enacted 
near the smoke-stack of the Kangaroo. 

Mr. Tomb'ey and Miss Augusta Smithers were leaning 
together over the bulwarks and watching the phosphores- 
cent foam go flashing past. Mr. Tombey was nervous and 
ill at ease ; Miss Smithers very much at ease, and reflecting 
that her companion's mustachios would well become the 
villain in a novel. 

Mr. Tombey looked at the star-spangled sky, on which 
the Southern Cross hung low, and he looked at the phos- 
phorescent sea ; but from neither did inspiration come. 
Inspiration is from within, and not from without. At last, 
however, he made a gallant and a desperate effort. 

" Miss Smithers," he said, in a voice trembling with 
agitation. 

"Yes, Mr. Tombey," answered Augusta quietly ; "what 
is it ? 

" Miss Smithers," he went on — " Miss Augusta, I don't 
know what you will think of me, but I must tell you, I 
can't keep it in any longer. I love you ! " 

Augusta <airly jumped. Mr. Tombey had be- n very, 
< ven markedly, polite, and she, not being a fool, had & en 
that he admired her; but she had never expected this, and 
the suddenness with which the shut was fired was some- 
what bewildering. 

"Why, Mr. Tombey," she said in a surprised voice, 
"you have only known me for a little more than a fort- 
night." 



9 o MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

" I fell in love with you when 1 had only known you 
for an hour," he answered with evident sincerity. " Please 
listen to me. I know I am not worthy of you ! But I 
do love you so very dearly, and I would make you a good 
husband ; indeed I would. I am well off; though, of 
course, that is nothing ; and if you don't like New Zealand, 
I would give it up and go to live in England. Do you 
think that you can take me? If you only knew how 
dearly I love you, I am sure you would." 

Augusta collected her wits as well as she could. The 
man evidently did love her ; there was no doubting the 
sincerity of his words, and she liked him, and he was a 
gentleman. If she married him there would be an end 
of all her worries and troubles, and she could rest con- 
tentedly on his strong arm. Woman, even gifted woman, 
is not made to fight the world with her own hand, and 
the prospect had allurements. But while she thought, 
Eustace Meeson's bonny face rose before her eyes, and, 
as it did so, a faint feeling of repulsion to the man who 
was pleading with her took form and colour in her breast. 
Eustace Meeson, of course, was nothing to her ; no word 
or sign of affection had passed between them ; and the 
probability was that she would never set her eyes upon 
him again. And yet that face rose up between her and 
this man who was pleading at her side. Many women 
have seen some such vision from the past and have 
disregarded it, only to find too late that that which 
is thrust aside is not necessarily dead ; for alas ! those 
faces of our departed youth have an uncanny trick of 
rising from the tomb of our forgetfulness. But Augusta 
was not of the great order of opportunists. Because a 
thing might be expedient, it did not, according to the 
dictates of her moral sense, follow that it was lawful. 



MR. TOMBEY GOES FORWARD. 91 

Therefore, she was a woman to be respected. For a 
woman who, except under most exceptional eircumstan 
gives her instincts the lie in order to pander to her con- 
venience or her desire for wealth and social ease, is nut 
altogether a woman to be respected. 

In a very few seconds she had made up her mind. 

" I am very much obliged to you, Mr. Tombey," she 
said ; u you have done me a great honour, the greatest 
honour a man can do to a woman ; but I cannot marry 
you." 

"Are you sure ?" gasped the unfortunate Tombey, for 
his hopes had been high. " Is there no hope for me ? 
Perhaps there is somebody else ! " 

" There is nobody else, Mr. Tombey ; but, I am sorry 
to say, you don't know how much it pains me to say it, 
I cannot hold out any prospect that I shall change my 
mind." 

He dropped his head upon his hands for a minute, and 
then lifted it again. 

" Very well," he said slowly ; " it can't be helped. I 
never loved any woman before, and I never shall again. 
It is a pity" — (with a hard, little laugh) — "that so much 
first-class affection should be wasted. But, there you 
are ; it is all part and parcel of the pleasant experiences 
which make up our lives. Good-bye, Miss Smithers ; at 
least, good-bye as a friend ! " 

" We can still be friends," she faltered. 

" Oh, no," he answered, with another laugh ; " that 
is an exploded notion. Friendship of that nature is not 
very safe under any circumstances, certainly nut under 
these. The relationship is antagonistic to the tacts of 
life, and the friends, or one or other of them, will drift 
either into indifference and dislike, or — something wanner. 



92 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

You are a novelist, Miss Smithers ; perhaps some day 
you will write a book to explain why people fall in love 
where their affection is not wanted, and what purpose 
their distress can possibly serve. And now, once more, 
good-bye ! " and he lifted her hand to his lips and gently 
kissed it, and then, with a bow, turned and went. 

From all of which it will be clearly seen that Mr. 
Tombey was decidedly a young man above the average, 
and one who took punishment very well. Augusta looked 
after him, sighed deeply, and even wiped away a tear. 
Then she turned and walked aft, to where Lady Holm- 
hurst was sitting chatting to the captain and enjoying the 
balmy southern air, through which the great ship was 
rushing with outspread sails like some huge white bird. 
As she came up, the captain made his bow and went, 
saying that he had something to see to, and for a minute 
Lady Holmhurst and Augusta were left alone. 

" Well, Augusta?" said Lady Holmhurst, for she called 
her "Augusta" now. 

" Well, Lady Holmhurst 1 " said Augusta. 

"And what have you done with that young man, Mr. 
Tombey — that very nice young man ? " she added with 
emphasis. 

" I think that Mr. Tombey went forward," said Augusta. 

The two women looked at each other, and, woman-like, 
each understood what the other meant. Lady Holmhurst 
had not been altogether innocent in the Tombey affair. 

" Lady Holmhurst," said Augusta, taking the bull by 
the horns, " Mr. Tombey has been speaking to me, and 
has " 

'•' Proposed to you," suggested Lady Holmhurst, admir- 
ing the Southern Cross through her eye-glasses. " You 
said he went forward, you know." 




^ 



TUT. KA 



MR. TOMBEY GOES FORWARD. 95 

" Has proposed to me," answered Augusta, ignoring 
the little joke. " I regret," she went on hurriedly, " that 
1 have not been able to fall in with Mr. Tomb' 
plar - 

I Lady Holmhurst ; "I am sorry, for some 
things. Mr. Tom bey is such a nice young man, and 
so very gentlemanlike. I thought that perhaps it might 
suit your views, and it would have simplified your future 
arrangements. But, of course, while you are in New 
Zealand, I shall be able to see to them. By the way, it 
is understood that you come to stay with us for a few 
months at Government House, before you hunt up your 
cousin." 

"You are very good to me, Lady Holmhurst," said 
Augusta, with something like a sob. 

Suppose, my dear." answered the great lady, laying 

her little hand upon Augusta's beautiful hair, "that you 

were to drop the ' Lady Holmhurst ' and call me ' Bessie ' ? 

Dunds so much more sociable, you know, and, besides, 

; t is shorter, and does not waste so much breath." 

Then Augusta sobbed outright, for her nerves were 
shaken : " You don't know what your kindness means to 
me," she said ; " I have never had a friend, and since my 
darling died I have been so very lonely ! " 




CHAPTER VII. 



THE CATASTROPHE. 




ND so the?e two fair women talked, making plans 
for the future as though all things endured 
for ever, and all plans were destined to be 
realised. But even as they talked, somewhere 
up in the high heavens the Voice that rules the world 
spoke a word, and the Messenger of Fate rushed forth to 
do its bidding. On board the great ship were music and 
laughter and the sweet voices of singing women ; but 
above it hung a pall of doom. Not the most timid heart 
dreamed of danger. What danger could there be aboard 
of that grand ship, which sped across the waves with the 
lightness and confidence of the swallow? There was 
naught to fear. A prosperous voyage was drawing to its 
end, and mothers put their babes to sleep with as sure a 
heart as though they were on solid English ground. Oh ! 
surely, when his overflowing load of sorrows and dire 
miseries was meted out to man, some gentle Spirit pleaded 
for him — that he should not have foresight added to the 
tale, that he should not see the falling knife or hear the 
water lapping that one day shall entomb him ? Or, was 



THE CATASTROPHE, 97 

it kept back because man, having knowledge, would be 
man without reason ? — for terror would make him mad, 
and he would end his fears by hurrying their fulfilment ! 
At least, we are blind to the future, and let us be thank- 
ful for it. 

Presently Lady Holmhurst got up from her chair, and 
said that she was going to bed, but that, first of all, she 
must kiss Dick, her little boy, who slept with his nurse 
in another cabin. Augusta rose and went with her, and 
they both kissed the sleeping child, a bonny boy of 
five, and then they kissed each other and separated for 
the night. 

Some hours afterwards, Augusta woke up, feeling very 
restless. For an hour or more she lay thinking of Mr. 
Tombey and many other things, and listening to the swift 
" lap, lap," of the water as it slipped past the vessel's 
sides, and the occasional tramp of the watch as they set 
fresh sails. At last her feeling of unrest became too much 
for her, and she rose and partially, very partially, dressed 
herself — for in the gloom she could only find her flannel 
vest and petticoat — twisted her long hair in a coil round 
her head, put on a hat and a thick ulster that hung upon 
the door — for they were running into chilly latitudes — and 
slipped out on deck. 

It was growing towards dawn, but the night was still 
dark. Looking up, Augusta could only just make out 
the outlines of the huge bellying sails, for the Kangaroo 
was rushing along before the westerly wind under a full 
head of steam, and with every inch of her canvas set to 
ease the screw. There was something very exhilarating 
about the movement, the freshness of the night, and the 
wild sweet song of the wind as it sang amongst the 
rigging. Augusta turned her face towards it, and, being 



9 8 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

alone, stretched out her arms as though to catch it. The 
whole scene awoke some answering greatness in her 
heart : something that slumbers in the bosoms of the 
higher race of human beings, and only stirs — and then 
but faintly — when the passions move them, or when 
Nature communes with her nobler children. She felt that 
at that moment she could write as she had never written 
yet. All sorts of beautiful ideas, all sorts of aspirations 
after that noble calm, and purity of thought and life for 
which we pray and long, but are not allowed to reach, 
came flowing into her heart. She almost thought that 
she could hear her lost Jeannie's voice calling down the 
gale, and her strong imagination began to paint her 
hovering like a sea-bird upon white wings high above 
the mainmast's taper point, and gazing through the 
darkness into the soul of her she loved. Then, by those 
faint and imperceptible degrees with which ideas fade 
one into another, from Jeannie her thought got round to 
Eustace Meeson. She wondered if he had ever called at 
the lodgings at Birmingham after she left ? Somehow, 
she had an idea that she was not altogether indifferent to 
him ; there had been a look in his eyes she did not quite 
understand. She almost wished now that she had sent 
him a line or a message. Perhaps she would do so from 
New Zealand. 

Just then her meditations were interrupted by a step, and, 
turning round, she found herself face to face with the captain. 

"Why, Miss Smithers ! " he said, "what on earth are 
you doing here at this hour — making up romances ? " 

" Yes," she answered, laughing, and with perfect truth. 
" The fact of the matter is, I could not sleep, so I came 
on deck : and very pleasant it is ! " 

" Yes," said the captain, " if you want something to 



THE CATASTROPHE. 99 

put into your stories you won't find anything better than 
this. The Kangaroo is showing her heels, isn't she, 
Miss Smithers ? That's the beauty of her, sne can sail 
as well as steam ; and when she has a strong wind like 
this abaft, it would have to be something very quick 
that could catch her. I believe that we have been 
running over seventeen knots an hour ever since midnight. 
I hope to 'make Kerguelen Island by seven o'clock to 
correct my chronometers." 

" What is Kerguelen Island ? " asked Augusta. 

11 Oh ! it is a desert place where nobody goes, except 
now and then a whaler to fill up with water. I believe 
that the astronomers sent an expedition there a few years 
ago, to observe the transit of Venus : but it was a 
failure because the weather was so misty — it is nearly 
always misty there. Well, I must be off, Miss Smithers. 
Good night ; or, rather, good morning. 

Before the words were well out of his mouth, there 
was a wild shout forward — " Ship ahead!" Then came 
an awful yell from about a dozen voices — 

" Starboard ! Hard a-starboard, for GocCs sake ! " 

With a fierce leap, like the leap of a man suddenly 
shot, the captain left her side and rushed on to the 
bridge. At the same instant the engine-bell rang and 
the steering-chains began to rattle furiously on the rollers 
at her fee*-, as the steam steering-gear did its work. 
Then came another yell — 

" It's a whaler/ — no lights!" and an answering shriek 
of terror from some big black object that loomed ahead. 
Before the echoes had died away, before the great ship 
could even answer to her helm, there was a crash, such 
as Augusta had never heard, and a sickening shock, that 
threw her on her hands and knees on to the deck, 



ioo MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

shaking the iron masts till they trembled as though they 
were willow wands, and making the huge sails flap and 
for an instant fly aback. The great vessel, rushing along 
at her frightful speed of seventeen knots, had plunged 
into the ship ahead with such hideous energy that she 
cut her clean in two — cut her in two and passed over 
her, as though she were a pleasure-boat ! 

Shriek upon shriek of despair rent the gloomy night, 
and then, as Augusta struggled to her feet, she felt a 
horrible succession of bumps, which were accompanied by 
a crushing grinding noise. It was the Kangaroo driving 
right over the remains of the whaler 1 

In a very few seconds it was done, and looking astern, 
Augusta could just make out something black that seemed 
to float for a second or two upon the water, and then 
disappear into its depths. It was the shattered hull of 
the whaler. 

Then there arose a faint murmuring sound, that grew 
first into a hum, then into a roar, and then into a clamour 
that shook the skies, and up from every hatchway and 
cabin in the great ship, human beings — men, women, 
and children — came rushing and tumbling, with faces 
white with terror — white as their night-gear. Some 
were almost naked, having slipped off their night- 
dress and had no time to put on anything else ; some 
wore ulsters and greatcoats, others had blankets thrown 
round them or carried their clothes in their hands. 
Up they came, hundreds and hundreds of them (for 
there were a thousand souls on board the Kangaroo), 
pouring aft like terrified spirits flying from the mouth of 
hell, and from them arose such a hideous clamour as few 
have lived to hear. 

Augusta clung to the nettings to let the rush go by, 



THE CATASTROPHE. 101 

trying to collect her scattered senses and to prevent her- 
self from catching the dreadful contagion of the panic. 
Being a brave and cool-headed woman, she presently 
succeeded, and with her returning clearness of vision 
realised that she and all on board were in great peril. It 
was plain that so frightful a collision could not have taken 
place without injury to their own vessel. Nothing short 
of an ironclad ram could have stood such a shock. Pro- 
bably they would founder in a few minutes, and all be 
drowned. In a few minutes she might be dead ! Her 
heart stood still at the horror of the thought, but once 
more she recovered herself. Well, after all, life had not 
been pleasant ; and she had nothing to fear from another 
world, she had done no wrong. Then suddenly she began 
to think of the others. Where was Lady Holmhurst : 
and where were the boy and the nurse ? Acting upon an 
impulse she did not stay to realise, she ran to the saloon 
hatchway. It was fairly clear now, for most of the people 
were on deck, and she found her way to the child's cabin 
with but little difficulty. There was a light in it, and the 
first glance showed her that the nurse had gone ; gone, 
and deserted the child — for there he lay, asleep, with a 
smile upon his little round face. The shock had scarcely 
wakened the boy, and, knowing nothing of shipwrecks, he 
had just shut his eyes and gone to sleep again. 

"Dick, Dick!" she said, shaking him. 

He yawned and sat up, and then threw himself down 
again saying, " Dick sleepy." 

" Yes, but Dick must wake up, and Auntie" (he called 
her "auntie") "will take him up on deck to look for 
Mummy. Won't it be nice to go on deck in the dark ? " 

" Yes," said Dick, with confidence ; and Augusta took 
him on her knee and hurried him as quickly as she could 



102 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

into such of his clothes as came handy. On the cabin 
door was a warm little pea-jacket which the child wore 
when it was cold. This she put on over his blouse and 
flannel shirt, and then, by an afterthought, took the two 
blankets off his bunk and wrapped them round him. At 
the foot of the nurse's bed were a box of biscuits and some 
milk. The biscuits she emptied into the pockets of her 
ulster, and having given the child as much of the milk as 
he would drink, swallowed the rest herself. Then, pinning 
a shawl which lay about round her own shoulders, she took 
up the child and made her way with him on to the deck. 
At the head of the companion she met Lord Holmhurst 
himself, rushing down to look after the child. 

" I have got him, Lord Holmhurst," she cried ; " the 
nurse has run away. Where is your wife ? " 

" Bless you ! " he said fervently ; " you are a good 
girl. Bessie is aft somewhere; I would not let her come. 
They are trying to keep the people off the boats — they are 
all mad!" 

" Are we sinking ? " she asked faintly. 

" God knows — ah ! here is the captain," pointing to a 
man who was walking, or rather pushing his way, rapidly 
towards them through the maddened, screeching mob. 
Lord Holmhurst caught him by the arm. 

" Let me go," he said roughly, trying to shake himself 
loose. " Oh ! it is you, Lord Holmhurst." 

" Yes ; step in here for one second and tell us the worst. 
Speak up, man, and let us know all ! " 

" Very well, Lord Holmhurst, I will. We have run 
down a whaler of about five hundred tons, which was 
cruising along under reduced canvas and showing no lights. 
Our fore compartment is stove right in, bulging out the 
plates on each side of the cut-water, and loosening the fore 



THE CATASTROPHE. 103 

bulkhead. The carpenter and his mates are doing their 
best to shore it up from the inside with balks of timber, 
but the water is coming in like a mill race, and I fear that 
there are other injuries. All the pumps are at work, but 
there's a deal of water, and if the bulkhead goes " 

" We shall go too," said Lord Holmhurst calmly. " Well, 
we must take to the boats. Is that all ? " 

" In Heaven's name, is not that enough ? " said the 
captain, looking up, so that the light that was fixed in the 
companion threw his ghastly face into bold relief. " No, 
Lord Holmhurst, it is not all. The boats will hold some- 
thing over three hundred people. There are about one 
thousand souls aboard the Kangaroo, of whom more than 
three hundred are women and children." 

" Therefore the men must drown," said Lord Holmhurst 
quietly. " God's will be done ! " 

" Your Lordship will, of course, take a place in the 
boats ? " said the captain hurriedly. " I have ordered 
them to be prepared, and, fortunately, day is breaking. I 
rely upon you to explain matters to the owners if you 
escape, and clear my character. The boats must make for 
Kerguelen Land. It is about seventy miles to the east- 
ward." 

" You must give your message to some one else, captain," 
was the answer; "I shall stay and share the fate of the 
other men." 

There was no pomposity about Lord Holmhurst now — 
all that had gone — and nothing but the simple gallant 
nature of the English gentleman remained. 

" No, no," said the captain, as they hurried aft, pushing 
their way through the fear-distracted crowd. " Have you 
got your revolver ? " 

" Yes." 



104 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

" Well, then, keep it handy ; you may have to use it 
presently : they will try and rush the boats." 

By this time the grey dawn was slowly breaking in 
cold and ghastly light upon the hideous scene of terror. 
Round about the boats were gathered the officers and 
some of the crew, doing their best to prepare them for 
lowering. Indeed, one had already been got away. In it 
were Lady Holmhurst, who had been thrown there against 
her will, shrieking for her child and husband, and about 
a score or women and children, together with half-a-dozen 
sailors and an officer. 

Augusta caught sight of her friend's face in the faint 
light. " Bessie ! Bessie ! Lady Holmhurst ! " she cried, " I 
have got the boy. It is all right — I have got the boy ! " 

She heard her, and waved her hand wildly towards 
her ; and then the men in the boat gave way, and in 
a second it was out of earshot. Just then a tall form 
seized Augusta by the arm. She looked up : it was 
Mr. Tombey, and she saw that in his other hand he held 
a revolver. 

" Thank God ! " he shouted in her ear, " I have found 
you ! This way — this way, quick ! " And he dragged 
her aft to where two sailors, standing by the davits that 
supported a small boat, were lowering her to the level of 
the bulwarks. 

" Now then, women ! " shouted an officer who was in 
charge of the operation. Some men made a rush. 

" Women first ! Women first ! " 

" I am in no hurry," said Augusta, stepping forward 
with the trembling child in her arms; and her action for 
a few seconds produced a calming effect, for the men 
stopped. 

" Come on ! " said Mr. Tombey, stooping to lift her 



THE CATASTROPHE. 105 

over the side, only to be nearly knocked down by a man 
who made a desperate effort to get into the boat. It was 
Mr. Meeson, and, recognising him, Mr. Tombey dealt him 
a blow that sent him spinning back. 

"A thousand pounds for a place!" he roared. "Ten 
thousand pounds for a seat in a boat ! " And once more 
he scrambled up at the bulwarks, trampling down a child 
as he did so, and was once more thrown back. 

Mr. Tombey took Augusta and the child into his 
strong arms and put them into the boat. As he did so 
he kissed her forehead and murmured, " God bless you ; 
good-bye ! " 

At that instant there was a loud report forward, and 
the stern of the vessel lifted perceptibly. The bulkhead 
had a'iven way, and there arose such a yell as surely was 
seldom heard before. To Augusta's ears it seemed to 
shape itself into the word " Sinking/" 

Up from the bowels of the ship poured the firemen, 
the appearance of whose blackened faces, lined with white 
streaks of perspiration, added a new impulse of terror to 
the panic-stricken throng. Aft they came, accompanied 
by a crowd of sailors and emigrants. 

" Rush the boats," sung out a coarse voice, " or we'll 
be drowned ! " 

Taking the hint, the maddened mob burst towards the 
boats like a flood, blaspheming and shrieking as it came. 
In a moment the women and children who were waiting 
to take to the boat in which Augusta and the two seamen 
were already, were swept aside, and a determined effort 
was made to rush it, headed by a great raw-boned navvy, 
the same who had called out. 

Augusta saw Mr. Tombey, Lord Holmhurst, who had 
come up, and the officer lift their pistols, which exploded 



io6 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

almost simultaneously, and the navvy and another man 
pitched forward on to their hands and knees. 

" Never mind the pistols, lads," shouted a voice ; " as 
well be shot as drown. There isn't room for half of us 
in the boats ; come on ! " And a second fearful rush was 
made, which bore the three gentlemen, firing as they went, 
back against the bulwark nettings. 

" Bill," halloaed the man who was holding on to the 
foremost tackle, " lower away ; we shall be rushed and 
swamped ! " 

Bill obeyed with heart and soul, and down sank the 
boat below the level of the upper decks, just as the 
mob was getting the mastery. In five seconds more 
they were hanging close over the water, and while they 
were in this position a man leapt at the boat from the 
bulwarks. He struck on the thwarts, rolled off into 
the water, and was no more seen. A lady, the wife 
of a Colonial Judge, threw her child ; Augusta tried to 
catch it, but missed, and the boy sank and was lost. 
In another moment the two sailors had shoved off from 
the ship's side. As they did so, the stern of the 
Kangaroo lifted right out of the water so that they could 
see under her rudderpost. Just then, too, with a yell 
of terror, Mr. Meeson, in whom the elementary principle of 
self-preservation at all costs was strongly developed, cast 
himself from the ship's side and fell with a splash within 
a few feet of the boat. Rising to the surface, he clutched 
hold of the gunwale, and implored to be taken in. 

" Knock the old varmint over the knuckles, Bill," shouted 
the other man ; " he'll upset us ! " 

" No ! no ! " cried Augusta, her heart moved at seeing 
her old enemy in such a case. " There is plenty of room 
in the boat." 



THE CATASTROPHE. 107 

" Hold on then," said the man addressed, whose name 
was Johnnie; "when we get clear we'll haul you in." 

And, the reader may be sure, Mr. Mecson did hold 
on pretty tight till, after rowing about fifty yards, the 
two men halted, and proceeded, not without some risk 
and trouble — for there was a considerable sea running 
— to hoist Mr. Meeson's large form over the gunwale of 
the boat. 

Meanwhile, the horrors on board the doomed ship were 
redoubling, as she slowly settled to her watery grave. 
Forward, the steam fog-horn was going unceasingly, bel- 
lowing like a thousand furious bulls ; while, now and 
again, a rocket still shot up through the misty morning 
air. Round the boats a hideous war was being waged. 
Augusta saw a great number of men jump into one of 
the largest life-boats, which was still hanging to the 
davits, having evidently got the better of those who were 
attempting to fill it with the women and children. The 
next second they lowered the after tackle, but, by some 
hitch or misunderstanding, not the foremost one ; with 
the result that the stern of the boat fell while the bow 
remained fixed, and every soul in it — they numbered forty 
or fifty — was shot out into the water. Another one, full 
of women and children, got to the water safely, but re- 
mained fastened to the ship by the bow tackle. When, 
a couple of minutes afterwards, the Kangaroo went down, 
nobody had a knife at hand wherewith to cut the rope, 
the boat was dragged down with her, and all its occu- 
pants drowned.* The remaining boats, with the excep- 
tion of the one in which Lady Holmhurst was, and 
which had been got away before the rush began were 

* A similar incident occurred in the case of the Teuton, which foundered 
some years ago on the South African coast 



108 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

never lowered at all, or sank as soon as lowered. It was 
impossible to lower them owing to the mad behaviour of 
the panic-stricken crowds, who fought like wild beasts 
for a place in them. A few gentlemen and sober-headed 
sailors could do nothing against a mob of frantic creatures, 
each bent on saving his own life, even if it cost the lives 
of all else on board. 

And thus it was exactly twenty minutes from the time 
that the Kangaroo sank the whaler (for, although these 
events have taken some time to describe, they did not 
take long to enact) that her own hour came, and, with 
the exception of some eight-and-twenty souls, all told, 
the hour also of every living creature who had taken 
passage in her. 




CHAPTER VIII. 



KERGUELEN LAND. 




S soon as Mr. Mecson, saved from drowning by 
her intervention, lay gasping at the bottom 
of the boat, Augusta, overcome by a momen- 
tary faintness, let her head fall forward on to 
the bundle of blankets in which she had wrapped up the 
child she had rescued, and who, too terrified to speak or 
cry, stared about him with widely-opened and frightened 
eyes. When she lifted it, a few seconds later, a ray 
from the rising sun had pierced the mist, and striking 
full on the sinking ship, as, her stern well out of the 
water and her bow well under it, she rolled sullenly to 
and fro in the trough of the sea, seemed to wrap her 
from hull to truck in wild and stormy light. 

11 She's going ! — by George, she's going ! " said the 
seaman Johnnie ; and as he said it the mighty ship 
slowly reared herself up on end. Slowly — very slowly, 
amidst the hideous and despairing shrieks of the doomed 
wretches on board of her, she lifted her stern higher 
and higher, and plunged her bows deeper and deeper. 
They shrieked, they cried to Heaven for help ; but 



no MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

Heaven heeded them not, for man's agony cannot avert 
man's doom. Now, for a space, she was standing almost 
upright upon the water, out of which more than a hun- 
dred feet of her vast length towered like some monstrous 
ocean growth, whilst, like flies benumbed by frost, men 
fell from her in showers, down into the churning foam 
beneath. Then suddenly, with a swift and awful rush, 
with a rending sound of breaking spars, a loud explosion 
of her boilers, and a smothered boom of bursting bulk- 
heads, she plunged down into the fathomless and was 
seen no more for ever. 

The water closed in over where she had been, boiling 
and foaming and sucking down all things in the wake of 
her last journey, while the steam and prisoned air came 
up in huge hissing jets and bubbles that exploded into 
spray on the surface. 

The men groaned, the child stared stupefied, and 
Augusta cried out, "Ok! oh!" like one in pain. 

" Row back ! " she gasped, " row back and see if we 
cannot pick some of them up." 

" No ! no ! " shouted Meeson ; " they will sink the 
boat ! " 

'"T ain't much use anyway," said Johnnie. "I doubt 
that precious few of them will come up again. They 
have gone too deep ! " 

However, they got the boat's head round again — 
slowly enough, Augusta thought — and as they did so 
heard a feeble cry or two. But by the time that 
they had reached the spot where the Kangaroo went 
down, there was no living creature to be seen ; nothing 
but the wash of the great waves, over which the mist 
once more closed thick and heavy as a pall. They 
shouted, and once they heard a faint answer, and rowed 







" ' She's going ! — by George, she's going ! ' said the seaman Johnnie." — Page 109. 



KKRGUELEN LAND. nj 

towards it ; but when they got to the spot whence the 
sound seemed to proceed, they could see nothing except 
some wreckage. They were all dead, their agony was 
done, their cries no more ascended to the pitiless heavens ; 
and wind, and sky, and sea were just as they had been. 

" Oh, my God ! my God ! " wept Augusta, clinging to 
the thwarts of the tossing boat. 

" One boat got away — where is it ? " asked Mr. 
Meeson, who, a wet and wretched figure, was huddled 
up in the stern-sheets, as he rolled his wild eyes round, 
striving to pierce the curtain of the mist. 

"There's something," said Johnnie, pointing through 
a fog-dog in the mist, that seemed to grow denser rather 
than otherwise as the light increased, at a round, boat- 
like object which had suddenly appeared to the starboard 
of them. 

They rowed up to it ; it was a boat, but empty and 
floating bottom upwards. Closer examination showed 
that it was the cutter, which, when full of women and 
children, had been fastened to the vessel and dragged 
down with her as she sank. At a certain depth the 
pressure of the water had torn the ring in the bow 
bodily out of her, so that she returned to the sur- 
face. But those in her did not return — at least, not 
yet. Once more, two or three days hence, they would 
arise from the watery depths and look upon the skies 
with eyes that could not see, and then vanish for 
ever. 

Turning from this awful and most moving sight, they 
rowed slowly through quantities of floating wreckage — 
barrels, hencoops (in one of these they found two drowned 
fowls, which they secured), and many other articles, such 
as oars and wicker deck-chairs — and began to shout 

H 



n 4 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

vigorously in the hope of attracting the attention of the 
survivors in the other boat, which they imagined could not 
be far off. Their efforts, however, proved fruitless, since 
owing to the thickness of the fog, and in the consider- 
able sea which was running, it was impossible to see 
more than twenty yards or so. Also, what between the 
wind, and the wash and turmoil of the water, the sound 
of their voices did not travel far. The ocean is a large 
place, and a rowing boat is easily lost sight of upon its 
furrowed surface ; therefore it is not wonderful that, 
although the two boats were at the moment within half 
a mile of each other, they never met, and each took its 
separate course in the hope of escaping the fate of the 
vessel. The boat in which were Lady Holmhurst and 
some twenty other passengers, together with the second 
officer and a crew of six men, after seeing the Kangaroo 
sink and picking up one survivor, shaped a course for 
Kerguelen Land, believing that they, and they alone, 
remained to tell the tale of that awful shipwreck. And 
here it may be convenient to state that before nightfall 
they were picked up by a sealing-whaler, that sailed 
with them to Albany, on the coast of Australia. Thence 
an account of the disaster, which, as the reader will 
remember, created a deep impression, was telegraphed 
home, and thence, in clue course, the widowed Lady 
Holmhurst and most of the other women who escaped 
were taken back to England. 

To return to our heroine and Mr. Meeson. 

The occupants of the little boat sat looking at each 
other with white scared faces, till at last the man called 
Johnnie, who, by the way, was not a tar of a very amiable 
cast of countenance, possibly owing to the fact that his 
nose was knocked almost flat against the side of his face, 



KERGUELEN LAND. 115 

swore violently, and said " It was no good stopping there 
all the etceteraed day." Thereupon Bill, who was a more 
jovial-looking man, remarked " that he, Johnnie, was et- 
ceteraed well right, so they had better hoist the foresail." 

At this point Augusta interposed, and told them that 
the captain, just as the vessel came into collision, had 
informed her that he was making Kerguelen Land, which 
was not more than sixty or seventy miles away. They 
had a compass in the boat, and they knew the course 
the Kangaroo was steering when she sank. Accordingly, 
without wasting further time, they got as much sail up 
as the little boat could carry in the stiff breeze, and ran 
nearly due east before the steady westerly wind. All 
day long they ran across the misty ocean, the little boat 
behaving splendidly, without sighting any living thing, 
till, at last, the night closed in again. There were, for- 
tunately, a bag of biscuits in the boat, and a breaker of 
water ; also there was, unfortunately, a breaker of rum, 
from which the two sailors, Bill and Johnnie, were already 
taking quite as much as was good for them. Conse- 
quently, though they were cold and wet with the spray, 
they had not to face the added horrors of starvation and 
thirst. At sundown they shortened sail considerably, 
only leaving enough canvas up to keep the boat ahead of 
the sea. 

Somehow the long night wore away. Augusta scarcely 
closed her eyes ; but little Dick slept like a top upon 
her bosom, sheltered by her arms and the blanket from 
the cold and penetrating spray. In the bottom of the 
boat lay Mr. Meeson, to whom Augusta, pitying his con- 
dition — for he was shivering dreadfully — had given the 
other blanket, keeping nothing for herself except the 
woollen shawl. 



u6 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

At last, however, there came a faint glow in the 
east, and the daylight began to break over the stormy 
sea. Augusta turned her head and stared through the 
mist. 

" What is that ? " she said, in a voice trembling with 
excitement, to the sailor Bill, who was taking his turn at 
the tiller ; and she pointed to a dark mass that loomed up 
almost over them. 

The man looked, looked again ; and then halloaed out 
joyfully, "Land — land ahead ! " 

Up struggled Mr. Meeson on to his knees — his legs 
were so stiff that he could not stand — and began to stare 
wildly about him. 

" Thank God ! " he cried. " Where is it ? Is it New 
Zealand ? If ever I get there, I'll stop there. I'll never 
go on a ship again ! " 

"New Zealand!" growled the sailor. "Are you a 
fool ? It's Kerguelen Land, that's what it is — where it 
rains all day, and nobody lives — not even a nigger. It's 
like enough that you'll stop there, though ; for I don't 
reckon that anybody will come to take you off in a 
hurry." 

Mr. Meeson collapsed with a groan, and a few minutes 
afterwards the sun rose, while the mist grew less and 
less, till at last it almost disappeared, revealing a grand 
panorama to the occupants of the boat. For before them 
were line upon line of jagged and lofty peaks, stretching 
as far as the eye could reach, till far away they gradually 
melted into the cold white gleam of snow. Bill slightly 
altered the boat's course to the southward, and, sailing 
round a point, she came into comparatively calm water. 
Then, due north of them, running into the land, they saw 
the mouth of a great fjord, bounded on either side by 



KERGUELEN LAND. n; 

towering mountain banks, so steep as to be almost pre- 
cipitous, around whose lofty cliffs thousands of sea-fowl 
wheeled, awaking the echoes with their clamour. Right 
into this beautiful fjord they sailed, past a line of flat 
rocks on which sat huge fantastic monsters that the 
sailors said were sea-lions, along the line of beetling 
cliff, till they came to a spot where the shore, on which 
grew a rank, sodden-looking grass, shelved gently up 
from the water's edge to the frowning and precipitous 
background. And here, to their delight, they discovered 
two huts roughly built of old ship's timbers placed within 
a score of yards of each other, and at a distance of some 
fifty paces from the water's edge. 

"Well, there's a house, anyway," said the flat-nosed 
Johnnie, " though it don't look as though it had paid rates 
and taxes lately." 

" Let us land, and get out of this horrible boat," said 
Mr. Meeson feebly : a proposition that Augusta seconded 
heartily enough. Accordingly, the sail was lowered, and, 
getting out the oars, the two sailors rowed the boat into 
a little natural harbour that opened out of the main creek. 
In ten minutes her occupants were once more stretch- 
ing their legs upon dry land ; that is, if any land in 
Kerguelen Island, that region of perpetual wet, could be 
said to be dry. 

Their first care was to go up to the huts and examine 
them, with a result that could scarcely be called encourag- 
ing. The huts had been built some years — whether by 
the expedition which, in 1874, came thither to observe the 
transit of Venus, or by former parties of shipwrecked 
mariners, they never discovered — and were now in a state 
of ruin. Mosses and lichens grew plentifully upon the 
beams, and even on the floor ; while great holes in the 



n8 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

roof let in the wet, which lay in little slimy puddles be- 
neath. Still, with all their drawbacks, they were decidedly 
better than the open beach ; a very short experience of 
which, in that inclement climate, would certainly have 
killed them ; and they thankfully decided to make the best 
of them. Accordingly, the smaller of the two huts was 
given up to Augusta and the boy Dick, while Mr. Meeson 
and the sailors took possession of the large one. Their 
next task was to move up their scanty belongings (the 
boat having first been carefully beached), and to clean 
out the huts and make them as habitable as possible by 
stretching the sails of the boat over the damp floors and 
covering up the holes in the roof as best they could with 
stones and bits of board from the bottom of the boat. 
The weather was, fortunately, dry, and as they all (with 
the exception of Mr. Meeson, who seemed to be quite 
prostrated) worked with a will, not excepting Master Dick 
— who toddled backwards and forwards after Augusta in 
high glee at finding himself on terra firma — by mid-day 
everything that could be done was done. Then they 
made a fire of some drift-wood — for, fortunately, they had 
a few matches — and Augusta cooked the two fowls they 
had recovered from the floating hen-coop, as well as cir- 
cumstances would allow — which, as a matter of fact, was 
not very well — and they had dinner, of which they all 
stood sadly in need. 

After dinner they reckoned up their resources. Of 
water there was an ample supply, for not far from the huts 
a stream ran down into the fjord. For food they had the 
best part of a bag of biscuits weighing about a hundred 
pounds. Also there was the cask of rum, which the men 
moved into their own hut. But that was not all, for 
there were plenty of shellfish about if they could find 




Right into this beautiful fjord they sailed."— Page 117. 



KERGUELEN LAND. 121 

means to cook them, and the rocks around were covered 
with hundreds of penguins, including specimens of the 
great " King penguin," which only required to be knocked 
on the head. There was, therefore, little fear of their 
perishing of starvation, as sometimes happens to ship- 
wrecked people. Indeed, immediately after dinner, the 
two sailors went out and returned with as many birds' 
eggs — mostly penguin — as they could carry in their hats. 
Scarcely had they got in, however, when the rain, 
which is the prevailing characteristic of these latitudes, 
came on in the most pitiless fashion ; and soon the 
great mountains with which they were surrounded were 
wrapped in dense veils of fleecy vapour. Hour after 
hour the rain fell without ceasing, penetrating through 
their miserable roofs, and falling — drop, drip, drop, — upon 
the sodden floor. Augusta sat by herself in the smaller 
hut, doing what she could to amuse little Dick by telling 
him stories. Nobody knows how hard she found it to 
have to invent stories when she was thus overwhelmed 
with misfortune ; but it was the only way of keeping the 
poor child from crying, as the sense of cold and misery 
forced itself into his little heart. So she told him about 
Robinson Crusoe, and then she told him that they were 
playing at being Robinson Crusoe, to which the child very 
sensibly replied that he did not at all like the game, and 
wanted his mamma. 

And meanwhile it grew darker and colder and damper 
hour by hour, till at length the light went out of the sky 
and left her with nothing to keep her company but the 
moaning wind, the falling rain, and the wild cries of the 
sea-birds when something disturbed them from their rest. 
The child was asleep at last, wrapped up in a blanket 
and one of the smaller sails; and Augusta, feeling quite 



122 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

worn out with solitude and the pressure of heavy thoughts, 
began to think that the best thing she could do would 
be to try to follow his example, when suddenly there 
came a knock at the boards which served as a door to 
the shanty. 

" Who is it ? " she cried, with a start. 

" Me — Mr. Meeson," answered a voice. " Can I come 
in ? " 

" Yes ; if you like," said Augusta sharply, though in 
her heart she was really glad to see him, or rather, to hear 
him, for it was too dark to see anything. It is wonderful 
how, under the pressure of great calamity, we forget our 
quarrels and our spites, and are ready to jump at the pros- 
pect of the human companionship of our deadliest enemy. 
And " the moral of that is," as the White Queen says, that 
as we are all night and day face to face with the last dread 
calamity — Death — we should throughout our lives behave 
as though we saw the present shadow of his hand. But 
that will rarely happen in the world while human nature 
is human nature — and when will it become anything 
else ? 

" Put up the door again," said Augusta, when, from a 
rather rawer rush of air than usual, she gathered that her 
visitor was within the hut. 

Mr. Meeson obeyed, groaning audibly. "Those two 
brutes are getting drunk," he said, " swallowing down rum 
by the gallon. I have come because I could not stop with 
them any longer — and I am so ill, Miss Smithers, so ill ! 
I believe that I am going to die. Sometimes I feel as 
though all the marrow in my bones were ice, and — and — 
at others just as if somebody were shoving a red-hot wire 
up them. Can't you do anything for me ? " 

" I don't see what is to be done," answered Augusta 



K.ERGUELEN LAND. 123 

gently, for the man's misery touched her in spite of her 
dislike of him. " You had better lie down and try to 
to sleep." 

"To sleep!" he moaned; "how can I sleep? My 
blanket is wringing wet and my clothes are damp," and he 
fairly broke down and began to groan and sob. 

"Try and go to sleep," urged Augusta again. 

He made no answer, but by degrees grew quieter, over- 
whelmed, perhaps, by the solemn presence of the dark- 
ness. Augusta laid her head against the biscuit-bag, and 
at last sank into blissful oblivion ; for to the young, sleep 
is a constant friend. Once or twice she woke, but only to 
drop off again : and when she finally opened her eyes it 
was quite light and the rain had ceased. 

Her first care was for little Dick, who had slept soundly 
throughout the night and appeared to be none the worse. 
She took him outside the hut and washed his face and 
hands in the stream, and then sat down to a breakfast of 
biscuit. As she returned she met the two sailors, who, 
although they were now fairly sober, bore upon their faces 
the marks of a fearful debauch. Evidently they had been 
drinking heavily. She drew herself up and looked at them, 
and they slunk past her in silence. 

Then she returned to the hut. Mr. Meeson was sitting 
up when she entered, and the bright light from the open 
door fell full upon his face. His appearance fairly 
shocked her. The heavy cheeks had faJlen in, there 
were great purple rings round the hollow eyes, and his 
whole aspect was that of a man in the last stage of 
illness. 

" 1 have had such a night ! " he said. " Oh, Heaven ! 
such a night ! I don't believe that I shall live through 
another." 



124 



MR. MEESON'S WILL. 



" Nonsense ! " said Augusta, "eat some biscuit and you 
will feel better." 

He took a piece of the biscuit which she gave him, and 
attempted to swallow it, but could not. 

" It is of no use," he said ; "lama dying man. Sitting 
in those wet clothes in the boat has finished me." 

And Augusta, looking at his face, could not but believe 
him. 




CHAPTER IX. 



AUGUSTA TO THE RESCUE. 




FTER breakfast — that is, after Augusta had eaten 
some biscuit and a wing that remained from the 
chickens she had managed to cook upon the 
previous day — Bill and Johnnie, the two sailors, 
set to work, at her suggestion, to fix up a long fragment 
of drift-wood on a point of rock, and to bind on to it a flag 
that they happened to find in the locker of the boat. 
There was not much chance of its being seen by anybody 
in that mist-laden atmosphere, even if anybody came there 
to see it, of which there was still less chance; still they 
did it as a sort of duty. By the time this task was 
finished it was midday, and, for a wonder, there was little 
wind, and the sun shone brightly. On returning to the 
huts Augusta got the blankets out to dry, and set the 
two sailors to roast some of the eggs they had found on 
the previous day. This they did willingly enough, for 
they were now quite sober, and very much ashamed of 
themselves. Then, after giving Dick some more biscuit 
and four roasted eggs, which he took to wonderfully, she 
went to Mr. Meeson, who was lying groaning in the 



126 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

hut, and persuaded him to come and sit out in the 
warmth. 

By this time the wretched man's condition was pitiable, 
for, though his strength was still whole in him, he was 
persuaded that he was going to die, and could touch 
nothing but some rum-and-water. 

" Miss Smithers," he said, as he sat shivering upon the 
rocks, " I am going to die in this horrible place, and I am 
not fit to die ! To think of me," he went on with a sudden 
burst of his old fire, " to think of my dying like a starved 
dog in the cold, when I have two millions of money wait- 
ing to be spent there in England ! And I would give them 
all — yes, every farthing of them — to find myself safe at 
home again ! By Jove ! I would change places with any 
poor devil of a writer in the Hutches ! Yes, I would turn 
author on twenty pounds a month ! — that will give you 
some idea of my condition, Miss Smithers ! To think that 
I should ever live to say that I would care to be a beggarly 
author, who could not make a thousand a year if he wrote 
till his fingers fell off! — oh ! oh ! " and he fairly sobbed at 
the horror and degradation of the thought. 

Augusta looked at the poor wretch, and then bethought 
her of the proud creature she had known, raging terribly 
through the obsequious ranks of clerks, and carrying 
desolation to the Hutches and the many-headed Editorial 
Department. She looked and was filled with reflections on 
the mutability of human affairs. 

Alas ! how changed that Meeson ! 

" Yes," he went on, recovering himself a little, " I am 
going to die in this horrible place, and all my money will 
not even give me a decent funeral. Addison and Roscoe 
will get it — confound them ! — as though they had not got 
enough already. It makes me mad when I think of those 



AUGUSTA TO THE RESCUE. 127 

Addison girls spending my money, and bribing peers to 
marry them with it, or something of that sort. I disin- 
herited my own nephew, Eustace, and kicked him out to 
sink or swim ; and now I can't undo it, and I would give 
anything to alter that ! We quarrelled about you, Miss 
Smithers, because I would not give you any more money 
for that book of yours. I wish I had given it to you — 
anything you wanted. I didn't treat you well ; but, Miss 
Smithers, a bargain is a bargain. It would never have 
done to give way, on principle. You must understand 
that, Miss Smithers. Don't revenge yourself on me about 
it, now that I am helpless, because, you see, it was a matter 
of principle." 

" I am not in the habit of revenging myself, Mr. 
Meeson," answered Augusta, with dignity ; " but I think 
that you have done a very wicked thing to disinherit your 
nephew in this fashion, and I don't wonder that you feel 
uncomfortable about it." 

The expression of this vigorous opinion served to dis- 
turb Mr. Meeson's conscience all the more, and he burst 
out into laments and regrets. 

" Well," said Augusta at last, " if you don't like your 
will you had better alter it. There are enough of us here 
to witness a will, and, if anything happens to you, it will 
override the other — will it not ? " 

This was a new idea, and the dying man jumped 
at it. 

" Of course, of course," he said ; " I never thought of 
that before. 1 will do it at once, and cut Addison and 
Roscoe out altogether. Eustace shall have every farthing. 
I never thought of that before. Come, give me your hand ; 
I'll get up and see about it." 

" Stop a minute," said Augusta. " How are you 



i28 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

going to write a will without pen or pencil, paper or 
ink?" 

Mr. Meeson sank back with a groan. This difficulty 
had not occurred to him. 

" Are you sure nobody has got a pencil and a bit of 
paper ? " he asked. " It would do, so long as the writing 
remained legible." 

" I don't think so," said Augusta, " but I will in- 
quire." Accordingly she went and asked Bill and Johnnie : 
but neither of them had a pencil or a single scrap of 
paper, and she returned sadly to communicate the news. 

" I have got it, I have got it," said Mr. Meeson, as 
she approached the spot where he lay upon the rock. 
" If there is no paper or pen, we must write it in 
blood upon some linen. We can make a pen from the 
feathers of a bird. I read somewhere in a book of 
somebody who did that. It will do as well as anything 
else." 

Here was an idea, indeed, and one that Augusta 
jumped at. But in another moment her enthusiasm re- 
ceived a check. Where was there any linen to write on ? 

" Yes," she said, " if you can find some linen. You 
have got on a flannel shirt, so have the two sailors, and 
little Dick is dressed in flannel, too." 

It was a fact. As it happened, not one of the party 
had a scrap of linen on them, or anything that would 
answer the purpose. Indeed, they had only one pocket- 
handkerchief between them, and it was a red rag full 
of holes. Augusta had had one, but it had blown 
overboard when they were in the boat. What would 
they not have given for that pocket-handkerchief now ! 

" Yes," said Mr. Meeson, " it seems we have none. I 
haven't even got a bank-note, or I might have written in 



AUGUS1 AH) THE RESCt I 129 

blood upon that : though I have got a hundred sovereigns 
in gold — I grabbed them up before I bolted from the cabin. 
But I say — excuse me, Miss Sm it hers, but — um — ah — oli ! 
hang modesty — haven't you got some linen on, somewhi re 
or other, that you could spare a bit of ? You sha'n't lose 
by giving it to me. There, I promise that I will tear up 
the agreement if ever I get out of this — which I sha'n't — 
which I sha'n't — and I will write on the linen that it is to 
be torn up. Yes, and that you are to have live thousand 
pounds legacy too, Miss Smithers. Surely you can spare 
me a little bit — just off the skirt, or somewhere, you know, 
Miss Smithers ? It never will be missed, and it is so very 
important." 

Augusta blushed, and no wonder. " I am sorry to 
say I have nothing of the sort about me, Mr. Meeson 
— nothing except flannel," she said. " I got up in the 
middle of the night before the collision, and there was 
no light in the cabin, and I put on whatever came first, 
meaning to come back and dress afterwards when it got 
light." 

"Not a cuff or a collar? Haven't you got a cuff or a 
collar?" he said desperately, catching at a last straw of 
hope. 

Augusta shook her head sadly. 

"Then there is an end of it!" groaned Mr. Meeson. 
" Eustace must lose the money. Poor lad ! poor lad ! I 
have behaved very badly to him." 

Augusta stood still, racking her brain for some expedient, 
for she was determined that Eustace Meeson should not 
lose the chance of that colossal fortune if she could help it. 
It was but a poor chance at the best, for Mr. Meeson might 
not be dying, after all. And if he did die, it was pro- 
bable that his fate would be their fate also, and no record 



i 3 o MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

would remain of them or of Mr. Meeson's testamentary 
wishes. As things looked at present, there was every 
prospect of their all perishing miserably on that desolate 
shore. 

Just then the sailor Bill, who had been up to the 
flag-staff on the rock on the chance of catching sight 
of some passing vessel, walked past. His flannel shirt- 
sleeves were rolled up to the elbows of his brawny 
arms, and as he stopped to speak to Augusta she 
noticed something that made her start, and gave her 
an idea. 

" There ain't nothing to be seen," said the man roughly ; 
"and it's my belief that there won't be neither. Here we 
are, and here we stops till we dies and rots." 

"Ah, I hope not," said Augusta. "By the way, Mr. 
Bill, will you let me look at the tattoo on your arm ? " 

" Certainly, Miss," said Bill, with alacrity, holding his 
great arm within an inch of her nose. It was covered 
with various tattoos : flags, ships, and what not, in the 
middle of which, written in small letters along the side of 
the forearm, was the sailor's name — Bill Jones. 

" Who did it, Mr. Bill ? " asked Augusta. 

" Who did it ? Why, I did it myself. A mate of mine 
made me a bet that I could not tattoo my name on my 
own arm, so I showed him ; and a poor sort of hand 
I should have been at tattooing if I could not." 

Augusta said no more till Bill had gone on, then she 
spoke. 

" Now, Mr. Mecson, do you sec how you can make your 
will ? " she said quietly. 

"See? No," he answered, "I don't." 

"Well, I do: you can tattoo it — or, rather, get the 
sailor to tattoo it. It need not be very long." 



AUGUSTA L'O THE RESCU] 131 

"Tattoo it! What on, and what with?" he asked, 
lished. 

"You can have it tattooed on the back of the other 
sailor, Johnnie, if he will allow yuii ; and as for material, 
you have some revolver cartridges ; if the gunpowder is 
mixed with water, it would do, I should think." 

"'Poll my word," said Mr. Meeson, "you are a won- 
derful woman ! Whoever would have thought of such a 
thing except a woman ? Go and ask the man Johnnie, 
there's a good girl, if he would mind my will being tattooed 
upon his back." 

" Well," said Augusta ; " it's a queer sort of message ; 
but I'll try." Accordingly, taking little Dick by the hand, 
she went across to where the two sailors were sitting 
outside their hut, and putting on her sweetest smile, 
first of all asked Mr. Bill if he would mind doing a little 
tattooing for her. To this Mr. Bill, finding time hang 
heavy upon his hands, and wishing to be kept from 
temptation of the rum-cask, graciously assented, saying 
that he had seen some sharp fish-bones lying about 
which would be the very thing, though he shook his 
head at the idea of using gunpowder as the medium, 
lb- said it would not do at all well, and then, as though 
suddenly seized by an inspiration, started off down to 
the shore. 

Then Augusta, as gently and nicely as she could, 
approached the question with Johnnie, who was sitting 
with his back against the hut, his battered countenance- 
wearing a peculiarly ill-favoured expression, probably 
owing to the fact that he was suffering from severe pain 
in his head, as a result of the debauch of the previous 
night. 

Slowly and with great difficulty, for his understanding 



i 3 2 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

was none of the clearest, she explained to him what was 
required ; and that it was suggested that he should pro- 
vide the necessary corpus vile upon which it was proposed 
that the experiment should be made. When at last he 
understood what it was asked that he should do, Johnnie's 
countenance was a sight to see, and his language more 
striking than correct. The upshot of it was, however, 
that he would see Mr. Meeson collectively, and Mr. 
Meeson's various members separately, especially his eyes, 
somewhere first. 

Augusta retreated till his wrath had spent itself, and 
then once more returned to the charge. 

She was sure, she said, that Mr. Johnnie would not 
mind witnessing the document, if anybody else could be 
found to submit to the pain of the tattooing. All that 
would be necessary would be for him to touch the hand 
of the operator while his (Johnnie's) name was tattooed 
as witness to the will. " Well," he said, " I don't know 
how as I mind doing that, since it's you as asked me, 
Miss, and not that old hulks of a Meeson. I would 
not lift a finger to save him from 'ell, Miss, and that's 
a fact." 

"Then that is a promise, Mr. Johnnie?" said Augusta, 
sweetly ignoring the garnishing with which the promise 
was adorned ; and on Mr. Johnnie stating that he looked 
at it in that light, she returned to Mr. Meeson. On her 
way she met Bill, carrying in his hands a loathsome-look- 
ing fish, with long feelers and a head like a parrot, in 
fact, a cuttle-fish. 

" Now, here's luck, Miss," said Bill exultingly, " I saw 
this gentleman lying down on the beach there this morn- 
ing. He's a cuttle, that's what he is; and I'll have his 
ink-bag out of him in a brace of shakes ; just the ticket 



AUGUSTA TO THE RESCUE. i 



.->.•) 



for tattooing, Miss, as good as the best Indian-ink — gun- 
powder is a fool to it." 

By this time they had reached Mr. Mceson, and here 
the whole matter, including Johnnie's obstinate refusal to 
be tattooed, was explained to Bill. 

" Well," said Augusta at length, " it seems that's the 
only thing to be done ; but the question is, how to do it ? 
I can only suggest, Mr. Meeson, that the will should be 
tattooed on you." 

"Oh !" said Mr. Meeson feebly, "on met Me tattooed 
like a savage — tattooed with my own will ! " 

"It wouldn't be much use, either, governor, begging 
your pardon," said Bill, " that is, if you is agoing to croak, 
as you says ; 'cause where would the will be then ? We 
might skin you with a sharp stone, perhaps, after you've 
done the trick, you know," he added reflectively. " But 
then we have no salt, so I doubt if you'd keep ; and if we 
set your hide in the sun, I reckon the writing would 
shrivel up so that all the courts of law in London could 
not make head nor tail of it." 

Mr. Meeson groaned loudly, as well he might. These 
frank remarks would have been trying to any man ; much 
more were they so to this opulent merchant-prince, who 
had always set the highest value on what Bill rudely called 
his " hide." 

" I'll' ; j's the infant," went on Bill meditatively. " He's 
young and white, and I fancy his top-crust would work 
wonderful easy ; but you'd have to hold him, for I expect 
that he'd yell proper." 

" Yes," said Mr. Meeson ; "let the will be tattooed upon 
the child. He'd be some use that way." 

" Yes," said Bill ; " and there'd alius be something left 
to remind him of a very queer time, provided he lives to 



i 3 4 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

get out of it, which is doubtful. Cuttle-ink won't rub out, 
I'll warrant." 

" I won't have Dick touched," said Augusta indig- 
nantly. "It would frighten the child into fits; and, 
besides, nobody has a right to mark him for life in that 
way." 

" Well, then, there's about an end of the question," said 
Bill ; " and this gentleman's money must go wherever it is 
he don't want it to." 

" No," said Augusta, with a sudden flush, " there is 
not. Mr. Eustace Meeson was once very kind to me, and 
rather than he should lose the chance of getting what he 
ought to have, I — I will be tattooed." 

" Well, bust me ! " said Bill, with enthusiasm, " bust 
me ! if you ain't a good-plucked one for a female woman ; 
and if I was that there young man I should make bold 
to tell you so." 

" Yes," said Mr. Meeson, " that is an excellent idea. 
You are young and strong, and as there is lots of food 
here, I daresay that you will take a long time to die. 
You might even live for some months. Let us begin at 
once. 1 feel dreadfully weak. I don't think that I can 
live through the night, and if I know that I have done 
all I can to make sure that Eustace gets his own, perhaps 
dying will be a little easier!" 



CHAPTER X. 



THE LAST OF MR. MEESON. 




IUGUSTA turned from the old man with a 
gesture of impatience not unmixed with dis- 
gust. His selfishness was of an order that 
revolted her. 

" I suppose," she said sharply to Bill, " that 1 must 
have this will tattooed upon my neck." 

"Yes, Miss; that's it," said Bill. "You see, Miss, 
one wants space for a doccymint. If it were a ship or a 
flag, now, or a fancy pictur of your young man, I might 
manage it on your arm ; but there must be breadth for a 
legal doccymint, more especially as I should like to make 
a good job of it while I is about it. I don't want n< 
of them larycrs a-turning up their noses at Bill Jones' 
tattooing." 

" Very well," said Augusta, with an inward sinking of 
the heart ; " I will go and get ready." 

Accordingly she adjourned into the hut and removed 
the body of her dress and turned down the flannel gar- 
ment underneath it in such a fashion as to leave as much 
of her neck bare as is to be seen when a lady wears a 



136 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

moderately low dress. Then she came out again, dressed, 
or rather undressed, for the sacrifice. Meanwhile, Bill 
had drawn out the ink-bag of the cuttle, prepared a little 
round fragment of wood which he sharpened like a pencil 
by rubbing it against a stone, and put a keen edge on to 
a long white fishbone that he had selected. 

" Now, Mr. Bill, 1 am read}'," said Augusta, seating 
herself resolutely upon a flat stone and setting her teeth. 

" My word, Miss ; you are a plucky one ! " said the 
sailor, contemplating her neck with the eye of an artist. 
" I never had such a bit of material to work on afore. 
Hang me if it ain't almost a pity to mark it ! Not but 
what high-class tattooing is an ornimint to anybody, from 
a princess clown ; and in that you are fortunit, Miss, for 
I larnt tattooing from them as can tattoo, I did." 

Augusta bit her lip, and the tears came into her eyes. 
She was only a woman, and had a woman's little weakness ; 
and, though she had never appeared in a low dress in her 
life, she knew that her neck was one of her greatest 
beauties, and was proud of it. It was hard to think that 
she would be marked all her life with this ridiculous will 
— that is, if she escaped— and, what was more, for the 
benefit of a young man who had no claim upon her at 
all. 

That was what she said to herself; but as she said it, 
something in her told her that it was not true. Some- 
thing told her that this young Mr. Eustace Meeson had a 
claim upon her — the highest claim that a man can have 
upon a woman, for the truth must out — she loved him. It 
seemed to have come home to her quite clearly here in this 
dreadful desolate place, here in the very shadow of an 
awful death, that she did love him, truly and deeply. And 
that being so, she would not have been what she was — a 



Till: LAST OF MR. MEESON. i 



0/ 



gentle-natured, devoted woman — had she not at heart re- 
joiced at this opportunity of self-sacrifice, even though that 
self-sacrifice was of the hardest sort, seeing that it involved 
what all women hate — the endurance of a ridiculous posi- 
tion. For love can do all things : it can even make its 
votaries brave ridicule. 

" Go on," she said sharply, " and let us get it over as 
soon as possible." 

" Very well, Miss. What is it to be, old gentleman ? 
Cut it short, you know." 

" ' / leave all my properly to Eustace H. Meeson,' that's as 
short as I can get it; and if properly witnessed, I think 
that it will cover everything," said Mr. Meeson, with a 
feeble air of triumph. "Anyhow, I never heard of a will 
that is to carry about two millions being got into nine 
words before." 

Bill poised his fishbone, and, next second, Augusta 
gave a start and a little shriek, for the operation had 
begun. 

"Never mind, Miss," said Bill consolingly; "you'll 
soon get used to it." 

After that Augusta set her teeth and endured in silence, 
though it really hurt her very much, for Bill was more 
careful of the artistic effect and the permanence of the work 
than of the feelings of his subject. Fiat txperimentum in 
corpore vlli, he would have said, had he been conversant 
with the classics, without much consideration for the 
corpus vile. So he pricked and dug away with his fishbone, 
which he dipped continually in the cuttle-ink, and also with 
the sharp piece of wood, till Augusta began to feel per- 
fectly faint. 

For three hours the work continued, and at the end of 
that time the body of the will was finished — for Bill was a 



1 3 8 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

rapid worker — being written in medium-sized letters right 
across her shoulders. But the signatures yet remained to 
be affixed. 

Bill asked her if she would like to let them stand over 
till the morrow ? — but this, although she felt ill with the 
pain, she declined to do. She was marked now, marked 
with the ineffaceable mark of Bill, so she might as well be 
marked to some purpose. If she put off the signing of the 
document till the morrow, it might be too late ; Mr. Meeson 
might be dead, Johnnie might have changed his mind, or a 
hundred things. So she told them to go on and finish it 
as quickly as possible, for there were only about two hours 
more daylight. 

Fortunately Mr. Meeson was more or less acquainted 
with the formalities that are necessary in the execution 
of a will, namely, that the testator and the two witnesses 
should all sign in the presence of each other. He also 
knew that it was sufficient, if, in cases of illness, some 
third person held the pen between the testator's fingers 
and assisted him to write his name, or even if some one 
signed for the testator in his presence and by his direc- 
tion ; and, arguing from this knowledge, he came to the 
conclusion — afterwards justified in the great case of 
Meeson v. Addison and Another — that it would be suffi- 
cient if he inflicted the first prick of his signature, and 
then kept his hand upon Bill's while the rest was done. 
This accordingly he did, clumsily running the point of 
the sharp bone so deep into the unfortunate Augusta that 
she cried aloud, and then keeping his hand upon the 
sailor's arm while he worked in the rest of the signature, 
"/• Meeson." 

When it was done, the turn of Johnnie came. Johnnie 
had at length aroused himself to some interest in what 



THE LAST OF MR. MEESON. 139 

was going on, and had stood by watching all the time, 
since Mr. Meeson, having laid his finger upon Augusta's 
shoulder, had solemnly declared the writing thereon to be 
his last will and testament. As he (Johnnie) could not 
tattoo, the same process was gone through with reference 
to his signature, as in the case of Mr. Meeson. Then 
Bill Jones signed his own name, as the second witness 
to the will ; and just as the light went out of the sky 
the document was finally executed — the date of the 
cution being alone omitted. Augusta got up off the 
flat stone where, for something like five hours, she had 
been seated during this torture, and staggering into the 
hut, threw herself down upon the sail, and went off into 
a dead faint It was indeed only by a very strong exercise 
of the will that she had kept herself from fainting long 
before. 

The next thing she was conscious of was a dreadful 
smarting in her back, and opened her eyes to find 
that it was quite dark in the hut. So weary was she, 
however, that after stretching out her hand to assure 
herself that Dick was safe by her side, she shut her eyes 
again and went fast asleep. When she woke, the day- 
light was creeping into the damp and squalid hut, revealing 
the heavy form of Mr. Meeson tossing to and fro in a 
troubled slumber on the further side. She got up, feel- 
ing dreadfully sore and weak; awoke the child, and taking 
him out to the stream of water washed him and her- 
self as well as she could. It was very cold outside ; so 
cold that Dick cried, and the rain-clouds were coming 
up fast, so she hurried back to the hut, and, together 
with Dick, made her breakfast off some biscuit and 
some roast penguin's eggs, which were not at all bad 
eating. She was, indeed, quite faint with hunger, having 



i4° MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

swallowed no food for many hours, and felt proportionately 
better after it. 

Then she turned to examine the condition of Mr. 
Meeson. The will had been executed none too soon, 
for it was evident to her that he was in a very bad way 
indeed. His face was sunken and hectic with fever, his 
teeth were chattering, and his talk, though he was now 
awake, was quite incoherent. She tried to get him to 
take some food ; but he would swallow nothing but water. 
Having done all that she could for him, she went out to 
see the sailors, and met them coming down from the flag- 
staff. They had evidently, though not to any great extent, 
been at the rum-cask again, for Bill looked sheepish 
and shaky, while the ill-favoured Johnnie was more sulky 
than ever. She gazed at them reproachfully, and then 
asked them to collect some more penguin's eggs, which 
Johnnie refused point-blank to do, saying that he wasn't 
going to collect eggs for landlubbers to eat ; she might 
collect eggs for herself. Bill, however, started on the 
errand, and in about an hour's time returned, just as the 
rain set in in good earnest, bearing six or seven dozen 
fresh eggs tied up in his coat. 

Augusta, with the child by her, sat in the miserable 
hut attending to Mr. Meeson ; while outside the pitiless 
rain poured down in a steady unceasing sheet of water 
that came through the wretched roof in streams. She 
did her best to keep the dying man dry, but it proved 
to be almost an impossibility, for even when she succeeded 
in preventing the wet from falling on him from above, it 
got underneath him from the reeking floor, while the heavy 
damp of the air gathered on his garments till they were 
quite sodden. 

As the hours went on his consciousness came back to 



THE LAST OF MR. MEESON. [41 

him, and with it his tenor for the end and hi.s remorse 
for his past life, for, alas ! the millions he had amas 
could not avail him now. 

" I am going to die ! " he groaned. " I am going to 
die, and I've been a bad man : I've been the head of a 
publishing company all my life ! " 

Augusta gently pointed out to him " that publishing was 
a very • respectable business when fairly and properly 
carried on, and not one that ought to weigh heavily upon 
a man at the last like the record of a career of successful 
usury or burgling." 

He shook his heavy head. " Yes, yes," he groaned ; 
" but you don't know Meeson's — you don't know the 
customs of the trade at Meeson's. 

Augusta reflected that she knew a good deal more 
about Meeson's than she liked. 

" Listen," he said, with desperate energy, sitting up 
upon the sail, "and I will tell you — I must tell you." 

Asterisks, so dear to the heart of the lady novelist, 
will best represent the confession that followed ; words 
are not equal to the task. 

Augusta listened with rising hair, and realised how 
very trying must be the life of a private confessor. 

" Oh, please stop ! " she said faintly, at last. " I can't 
bear it — I can't, indeed." 

•Ah!" he said, as he sank back exhausted. "1 
thought that when you understood the customs at Meeson's 
you would feel for me in my present position. Think, 
girl, think what I must suffer, with such a past, standing 
face to face with an unknown future ! " 

Then came a silence. 

" Take him away ! Take him away!" suddenly shouted 



1 42 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

out Mr. Mceson, staring around him with frightened 
eyes. 

" Who ? " asked Augusta ; " who ? " 

" Him — the tall, thin man, with the big book ! I 
know him ; he used to be Number 25 — he died years 
ago. Listen ! he's talking ! Don't you hear him ? Oh, 
Heavens ! He says that I am going to be an author, 
and he is going to publish for me for a thousand years — 
going to publish on the quarter-profit system, with an 
annual account, the usual trade deductions, and no 
vouchers. Oh ! oh ! Look ! — they are all coming ! — 
they are pouring out of the Hutches ! they are going 
to murder me! — keep them off! keep them off!" and 
he beat the air with his hands. 

Augusta, utterly overcome by this strange sight, knelt 
down by his side and tried to quiet him, but in vain. He 
went on beating the air as though he were trying to keep 
off the ghostly train, till at last he suddenly fell back 
dead. 

And that was the end of Mecson. And the works that 
he published, and the money that he made, and the house 
that he built, and the evil that he did — are they not 
written in the Book of the Commercial Kings ? 

" Well," said Augusta faintly to herself when she had 
got her breath back a little, "I am glad that it is over; 
anyway, I do hope that I may never be called on to nurse 
the head of another publishing company." 

"Auntie! Auntie !" gasped Dick, " why do the gentle- 
men shout so ? " 

Then, taking the frightened child by the hand, Augusta 
made her way through the rain to the other hut, in order 
to tell the two sailors what had come to pass. It had 



THE LAST 01 MR MEESl >N. 143 

no door, and she paused on the threshold to prospect. 
The faint foggy light was so dim that at first she could 
see nothing. Presently, however, her eyes got accus- 
tomed to it, and she made out Bill and Johnnie sitting 
opposite to each other on the ground. Between them 

- the breaker of rum. Bill had a large shell in his 
hand, which he had just filled from the cask ; for Augi 
him in the act of replacing the spigot. 

" My go ! — curse you, my go ! " said Johnnie, as Bill 
lifted the shell of spirits to his lips. " You've had seven 
goes and I've only had six ! " 

"You be blowed ! " said Bill, swallowing the liquor in 
a couple of great gulps. " Ah ! that's better ! Now I'll 
fill for you, mate ; fair does, I says, fair does and no 
favour," and he filled accordingly. 

" Mr. Meeson is dead," said Augusta, screwing up her 
courage to interrupt this orgie. 

The two men stared at her in drunken surprise, which 
Johnnie broke. 

" Now is he, Miss ? " he said, with a hiccough ; '• is 
he ? Well, a good job too, says I ; a useless old land- 
lubber he was. I doubt he's off to a warmer place than 
this 'ere Kerguelen Land, and I drinks his health, which, 

the way, I never had the occasion to do before. If 
lie health of the departed," and he swallowed the shell- 
ful of rum at a draught. 

"Your sentiment I echoes," said Bill. "Johnnie, the 
shell ; give us the shell to drink the 'ealth of the dear 
departed." 

Then Augusta returned to her hut with a heavy heart. 
She covered up the body as best as she could, telling 
little Dick that Mr. Meeson was gone by-by, and then sat 
down in that chill and awful company. It was very 



i 4 4 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

depressing ; but she comforted herself somewhat with the 
reflection that, on the whole, Mr. Meeson dead was not so 
bad as Mr. Meeson in the animated flesh. 

Presently the night set in once more, and, worn out 
with all that she had gone through, Augusta said her 
prayers and went to sleep with little Dick fast locked in 
her arms. 

Some hours afterwards she was awakened by loud and 
uproarious shouts, made up of snatches of drunken songs 
and that peculiar class of English that hovers ever round 
the lips of the British tar. Evidently Bill and Johnnie 
were raging drunk, and in this condition were taking the 
midnight air. 

The sound of shouting and swearing went reeling away 
towards the water's edge, and then, all of a sudden, it 
culminated in a fearful yell — after which came silence. 

What could it mean ? wondered Augusta, and whilst 
she was still wondering dropped off to sleep again. 





CHAPTER XI. 

RESCUED. 

'GUSTA woke up just as the dawn was stealing 
across the sodden sky. She rose, leaving 
Dick yet asleep, and, remembering the tur- 
moil of the night, hurried to the other hut. 
It was empty. 

She turned and looked about her. About fifteen paces 
from where she was lay the shell that the two drunkards 
had used as a cup. Going forward, she picked it up. It 
still smelt disgustingly of spirits. Evidently the two men 
had dropped it in the course of their midnight walk, or 
rather roll. Where had they gone to ? 

Straight in front of her a rocky promontory ran out fifty 
paces or more into the waters of the fjord-like bay. She 
walked along it aimlessly, till presently she perceived one 
of the sailors' hats lying on the ground, or, rather, floating 
in a pool of water. Clearly they had gone this way. On 
she went to the point of the little headland, sheer over 
the wat< r. There was nothing to be seen, not a single 
vestige of Bill and Johnnie. Aimlessly enough she leant 



i 4 6 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

forward, stared over the rocky wall down into the clear 
water, and then started back with a little cry. 

No wonder that she started, for there on the sand, 
beneath a fathom and a half of quiet water, lay the bodies 
of the two ill-fated men. They were locked in each 
other's arms, and lay as though they were asleep upon 
that ocean bed. How they came to their end she never 
knew. Perhaps they quarrelled in their drunken anger and 
fell over the little cliff; or perhaps they stumbled and fell, 
not knowing whither they were going. Who can say? 
At any rate, there they were, and there they remained, till 
the outgoing tide floated them off to join the great army of 
their companions who had gone down with the Kangaroo, 
and so Augusta was left alone. 

With a heavy heart she returned to the hut, pressed 
down by the weight of solitude, and the sense that in the 
midst of so much death she could not hope to escape. 
There was no human creature left alive in that vast lonely 
land, except the child and herself, and so far as she could 
see, their fate would soon be as the fate of the others. 
When she got back to the hut, Dick was awake and was 
crying for her. 

The still stiff form of Mr. Meeson, stretched out beneath 
the sail, frightened the little lad, he did not know why. 
Augusta took him into her arms and kissed him pas- 
sionately. She loved the child for his own sake ; and, 
besides, he, and he alone, stood between her and utter 
solitude. Then she took him across to the other hut, 
which had been vacated by the sailors, for it was impos- 
sible to stay in the one with the body, which was too 
heavy for her to move. In the centre of the sailors' hut 
stood the cask of rum which had been the cause of their 
destruction. It was nearly empty now — so light, indeed, 




Nothing but the white wave-horses, across which the black cormorants steered 
their swift, unerring flight."—/',;^ 149. 



RESCUED. 149 

that she had no difficulty in rolling it to one side. She 
cleaned out the place as well as she could, and, returning 
to where Mr. Meeson's body lay, fetched the bag of bis- 
cuits and the roasted eggs, after which they had their 
breakfast. 

Fortunately, there was but little rain that morning, 
so Augusta took Dick out to look for eggs, not because 
they wanted any more, but in order to employ them- 
selves. Together they climbed up on to a rocky head- 
land, where the flag was flying, and looked out across 
the troubled ocean. There was nothing in sight so far 
as the eye could see — nothing but the white wave-horses, 
across which the black cormorants steered their swift, 
unerring flight. She looked and looked till her heart 
sank within her. 

" Will Mummy soon come in a boat to take Dick 
away ? " asked the child at her side ; and then she burst 
into tears. 

When she had recovered herself they set to collecting 
s, an occupation which delighted Dick greatly, notwith- 
standing the screams and threatened attacks of the birds. 
Soon they had as many as she could carry; so they went 
back to the hut and lit a fire of drift-wood, and roasted 
some eggs in the hot ashes ; she had no pot to boil them 
in. Thus, one way and another the day wore away, and 
at last the darkness began to fall over the rugged peaks 
behind and the wild wilderness of sea before. She put 
Dick to bed, and he went off to sleep. Indeed, it was 
wonderful to see how well the child bore the hardships 
through which they were passing. He never had an ache 
or a pain, or even a cold in the head. 

After Dick was asleep Augusta sat, or rather lay in 
the dark listening to the moaning of the wind as it beat 



•5° 



MR. MEESON'S WILL 



upon the shanty and passed away in gusts among the 
cliffs and mountains beyond. The loneliness was some- 
thing awful, and together with the thought of what the 
end of it would probably be, quite broke her spirit down. 
She knew that the chances of her escape were small 
indeed. Ships did not often come to this dreadful and 
uninhabited coast, and if one should happen to put in there, 
it was exceedingly probable that it would touch at some 
other point and never see her or her flag. And then in 
time the end would come. The supply of eggs would fail, 
and she would be driven to supporting life upon such 
birds as she could catch, till at last the child sickened and 
died, and she followed it to that dim land that lies beyond 
Kerguelen and the world. She prayed that the child 
might die first. It was awful to think that perhaps it 
might be the other way about : she might die first, and 
the child might be left to starve beside her. The morrow 
would be Christmas Day. Last Christmas Day she had 
spent with her dead sister at Birmingham. She remem- 
bered that they went to church in the morning, and after 
dinner she had finished correcting the last revises of 
" Jemima's Vow." Well, it seemed likely that long before 
another Christmas came she would have gone to join little 
Jeannic. And then, being a good and religious girl, 
Augusta rose to her knees and prayed to Heaven with 
all her heart and soul to rescue them from their terrible 
position, or, if she was doomed to perish, at least to save 
the child. 

And so the long cold night wore away in thought and 
vigil, till at last, some two hours before the dawn, she 
got to sleep. When she opened her eyes again it was 
broad daylight, and little Dick, who had been awake some 
time beside her, was sitting up playing with the shell 



RESCUED. 151 

which Bill and Johnnie had used to drink rum out of. 
She rose and put the child's things a little to rights, and 
then, as it was not raining, told him to run outside while 
she went through the form of dressing by taking oft" such 
garments as she had, shaking them, and putting them 
on again. She was slowly going through this process, 
and wondering how long it would be before her neck 
ceased to smart from the effects of the tattooing, when 
Dick came running in without going through the formality 
of knocking. 

"O Auntie ! Auntie ! " he sang out in high glee, "here's 
a big ship coming sailing along. Is it Mummie and Daddie 
coming to fetch Dick ? " 

Augusta sank back faint witli the sudden revulsion of 
feeling. If there was a ship, they were saved — snatched 
from the very jaws of death. But perhaps it was the 
child's fancy. She threw on the body of her dress; and, 
her long yellow hair — which, in default of better means, 
she had been trying to comb out with a bit of wood — 
streaming behind her, took the child by the hand, and 
flew as fast as she could go down the little rocky promon- 
tory oft" which Bill and Johnnie had met their end. Before 
she had run half-way down it, she saw that the child's 
tale was true — for there was a large vessel sailing right 
up the fjord from the open sea. She was not two 
hundred yards from where they were, and her canvas 
was being rapidly furled preparatory to the anchor being 
dropped. 

Thanking Providence for the sight as she never thanked 
anything before, Augusta sped on till she came to the 
extreme point of the promontory, and stood there waving 
Dick's little cap towards the vessel, which moved slowly and 
majestically on, till presently, across the clear water, came 



i 5 2 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

the splash of the anchor, followed by the sound of the 
fierce rattle of the chain through the hawse-pipes. Then 
there came another sound — the glad sound of human 
voices cheering. She had been seen. 

Five minutes passed, and she saw a boat lowered and 
manned. The oars were got out, and presently it was 
backing water within ten paces of her. 

" Go round there," she called, pointing to the little 
bay, " and I will meet you." 

By the time that she had got to the spot the boat was 
already beached, and a tall, thin, kindly-faced man was 
addressing her in an unmistakable Yankee accent : " Cast 
away, Miss ? " he said interrogatively. 

" Yes," gasped Augusta ; " we are the survivors of the 
Kangaroo, which sank in collision with a whaler about a 
week ago." 

" Ah ! " said the captain, " with a whaler ? Then I 
guess that's where my consort has gone to. She's been 
missing about a week, and I put in here to see if I could 
get upon her tracks — also to fill up with water. Wall, 
she was well insured, anyway ; and when last we spoke 
her, she had made a very poor catch. But perhaps, Miss, 
you will, at your convenience, favour me with a few 
particulars ? " 

Accordingly, Augusta sketched the history of their 
terrible adventure in as few words as possible ; and the 
tale was one that made even the phlegmatic Yankee 
captain stare. Then she took him, followed by the crew, 
to the hut where Meeson lay dead, and to the other hut, 
where she and Dick had slept upon the previous night. 

"Wall, Miss," said the captain, whose name was 
Thomas, " I guess that you and the youngster will be 
about ready to vacate these apartments ; so, if you please, 



RESCUED. 153 

I will send you off to the ship, the Harpoon — that's her 
name — of Norfolk, in the United States. You will find 
her well flavoured with oil, for we are about full to the 
hatches ; but, perhaps, under the circumstances, you will 
not mind that. Anyway, my Missus, who is aboard — 
having come the cruise for her health — and who is an 
Englishwoman like you, will do all she can to make you 
comfortable. And I tell you what it is, Miss : if I was 
in any way pious, I should just thank the Almighty that I 
happened to see that there bit of a flag with my spy-glass 
as I was sailing along the coast at sun-up this morning, for 
I had no intention of putting in at this creek, but at one 
twenty miles along. And now, Miss, if you'll go aboard, 
some of us will stop and just tuck up the dead gentleman ' 
as well as we can." 

Augusta thanked him from her heart, and, going into 
the hut, got her hat and the roll of sovereigns which had 
been Mr. Meeson's, but which he had told her to take, 
leaving the blankets to be brought by the men. 

Then two of the sailors got into the little boat 
belonging to the Kangaroo, in which Augusta had 
escaped, and rowed her and Dick away from that hateful 
shore to where the whaler was lying at anchor. As 
they drew near, she saw the rest of the crew of the 
Harpoon, among whom was a woman, watching their 
advent from the deck, who, when she got her foot upon 
the companion-ladder, one and all set up a hearty cheer. 
In another moment she was on deck — which, notwith- 
standing its abominable smell of oil, seemed to her the 
fairest and most delightful place that her eyes had ever 
rested on — and being almost hugged by Mrs. Thomas, a 
pleasant-looking woman of about thirty, the daughter of 
a Suffolk farmer who had emigrated to the States. And 



L : 4 



MR. MEESOX'S WILE. 



then, of course, she had to tell her story all over again ; 
r which she was led off to the cabin occupied by the 
captain and his wife, and which thenceforth was occupied 
by Augusta, Mrs. Thomas, and little Dick, the captain 
shaking down where he could. And here, for the first 
time for nearly a week, she was able to wash and dress 
herself properly. And oh, the luxury of it ! Nobody 
knows what the delights of clean linen really mean till 
he or she has been forced to dispense with it under cir- 
r.anees of privation; nor have the}- the slightest idea 
of what a difference to one's well-being and comfort is 
made by the possession or non-p ssession of an article so 
common as a comb. Whilst Augusta was still combing 
out her hair with sighs of delight, Mrs. Thomas knocked 
at the door and was admitted. 

" My, Miss ! what beautiful hair you have, now that it 
is combed out ! " she said in admiration ; " why, whatever 
is that upon your shoulders ? " 

Then Ai - had to tell the tale of the tattooing, which 

by the way, it struck her, it was wise to do, seeing that 
she thus secured a wit -to the fact that she was already 
tattooed on leaving Kerguelen Land, and that the operation 
had been of such recent infliction that the flesh was still 
inflamed with it This was the more necessary as the 
tattooing was undated. 

Mrs. Thomas listened to the story with her mouth 
open, lost between admiration at Augusta's courage, and 
regret that her neck should have been ruined in that 
fashion. 

" Well, the least that he " (alluding to Eustace) " can 
do is to many- you after you have spoilt yourself in that 
fashion for his benefit," said the practical Mrs. Thomas. 
N /.sense! Mrs. Thomas," said Augusta, blushing 




' o . ■ 
g along.' " — J 






RESCUED. 



■57 



violently, and stamping her foot with such energy that her 
hostess jumped. 

There was no reason why she should give an innocent 
remark such a warm reception ; but then, as the reader 
will no doubt have observed, the reluctance that some 
young women show to talking of the possibility of their 
marriage to the man they happen to have set their hearts 
on, is 'only equalled by the alacrity with which they marry 
him when the time comes. 

Having set Dick and Augusta down to a breakfast of 
porridge and coffee, which both of them thought delicious, 
though the fare was really rather coarse, Mrs. Thomas, 
being unable to restrain her curiosity, rowed off to the 
land to see the huts and also Mr. Meeson's remains, which, 
though not a pleasant sight, were undoubtedly an interest- 
ing one. With her, too, went most of the crew, bent upon 
the same errand, and also on obtaining water, of which the 
Harpoon was short. 

As soon as she was left alone, Augusta went back to 
the cabin, taking Dick with her, and laid herself down on 
the berth with a feeling of safety and thankfulness to 
which she had long been a stranger, where very soon 
she fell sound asleep. 




CHAPTER XII. 



SOUTHAMPTON QUAY. 




HEN Augusta opened her eyes again she became 
conscious of a violent rolling motion that she 
could not mistake. They were at sea. 

She got up, smoothed her hair, and went on 
deck, to find that she had slept for many hours, for the 
sun was setting. She walked aft to where Mrs. Thomas 
was sitting near the wheel with little Dick beside her, and 
after greeting them, turned to watch the sunset. The 
sight was a beautiful one enough, for the great waves, 
driven by the westerly wind, which in these latitudes is 
nearly always blowing half a gale, were rushing past them 
wild and free, and the sharp spray from their foaming crests 
struck upon her forehead like a whip. The sun was set- 
ting, and the arrows of his dying light flew fast and far 
across the billowy bosom of the deep. Fast and far they 
flew from the stormy glory in the west, lighting up the 
pale surfaces of cloud, and tinging the grey waters of that 
majestic sea with a lurid hue of blood. They kissed the 
bellying sails, and seemed to rest upon the vessel's lofty 
trucks, and then travelled on and away and away, through 



SOUTHAMPTON QUAY. 159 

the great empyrean of space till they broke and vanished 
upon the horizon's rounded edge. There behind them 
— miles behind — Kcrguclen Land reared its fierce cliffs 
against the twilight sky. Clear and desolate they towered 
in an unutterable solitude, and on their snowy surfaces 
the sunbeams beat coldly as the warm breath of some 
human passion beating on Aphrodite's marble heart. 

Augusta gazed upon those drear cliffs that had so nearly 
proved her monumental pile, and shuddered. It was as a 
hideous dream. 

And then the dark and creeping shadows of the night 
threw their veils around and over them, and they vanished. 
They were swallowed up in blackness, and she lost 
sight of them and of the great seas that for ever beat 
and churn about their stony feet ; nor, except in dreams, 
did she again set her eyes upon their measureless 
solitude. 

The night arose in strength and shook a golden dew of 
stars from the tresses of her streaming clouds, till the 
wonderful deep heavens sparkled with a myriad gem my 
points. The west wind going on his way sung a wild 
chant amongst the cordage, and rushed among the sails as 
with a rush of wings. The ship leaned over like a maiden 
shrinking from a kiss, then, shivering, fled away, leaping 
from billow to billow as they rose and tossed their white 
arms about her, fain to drag her down and hold her to 
ocean's heaving breast. 

The rigging tautened, and the huge sails flapped in 
thunder as the Harpoon sped upon her course, and all 
around was greatness and the present majesty of power. 
Augusta looked aloft and sighed, she knew not why. The 
swift blood of youth coursed through her veins, and she 
rejoiced exceedingly that life and all its possibilities yet 



160 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

lay before her. But a little more of that dreadful place 
and they would have lain behind. Her days would have 
been numbered before she scarce had time to strike a blow 
in the great human struggle that rages ceaselessly from 
age to age. The voice of her genius would have been 
hushed just as its notes began to thrill, and her message 
would never have been spoken in the world. But now 
Time was once more before her, and, oh ! the nearness 
of Death had taught her the unspeakable value of that 
one asset on which we can rely — Life. Not, indeed, 
that life for which so many live — the life led for self, 
and having for its principle, if not its only end, the 
gratification of the desires of self; but an altogether 
higher life — a life devoted to telling that which her 
keen instinct knew was truth, and, however imperfectly, 
painting with the pigment of her noble art those visions 
of beauty which sometimes seemed to rest like heavenly 
shadows on her soul. 



Three months had passed — three long months of toss- 
ing waters and ever-present winds. The Harpoon, shaping 
her course for Norfolk, in the United States, had made a 
poor passage of it. She got into the south-east trades, 
and all went well till they made St. Paul's Rocks, where 
they were detained by the doldrums and variable winds. 
Afterwards she passed into the north-east trades, and then, 
further north, met a series of westerly gales, that ultimately 
drove her to the Azores, just as her crew were getting 
very short of water and provisions. And here Augusta 
bid farewell to her friend the Yankee skipper ; for the 
whaler that had saved her life and Dick's, after refitting 
once more, set sail upon its almost endless voyage. She 



SOUTHAMPTON QUAY. 161 

stood on the breakwater at Ponta Delgada, and watched 
the Harpoon drop past. The men recognised her, and 
cheered lustily, and Captain Thomas took off his hat ; for 
the entire ship's company, down to the cabin-boy, were 
yiead-over-heels in love with Augusta; and the extraor- 
dinary offerings that they made her on parting, most of them 
connected in some way or other with that noble animal the 
whale, sufficed to fill a good-sized packing-case. Augusta 
waved her handkerchief to them in answer ; but she could 
not see much of them, because her eyes were full of tears. 
She had seen quite enough of the Harpoon ; and yet she was 
loth to say farewell to her, for her days on board had 
in many respects been restful and happy ones ; they had 
given her space and time to brace herself up before she 
plunged once more into the struggle of active life. Be- 
sides, she had throughout been treated with that unvary- 
ing kindness and consideration for which the American 
people are justly noted in their dealings with all persons 
in misfortune. 

But Augusta was not the only person who with sorrow 
watched the departure of the Harpoon. First, there was 
little Dick, who had acquired a fine Yankee drawl, and 
grown quite half an inch on board of her, and who fairly 
howled when his particular friend, a remarkably fierce and 
grisly-looking boatswain, brought him as a parting offering 
a large whale's tooth, patiently carved by himself with a 
spirited picture of their rescue on Kerguelen Land. Then 
there was Mrs. Thomas. When they finally reached 
the island of St. Michael, in the Azores, Augusta had 
offered to pay fifty pounds, being half of the hundred 
sovereigns given to her by Mr. Meeson, to Captain Thomas 
as a passage fee, knowing that he was by no means over- 
burdened with the goods of this world. But he stoutly 



1 62 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

declined to touch a farthing, saying that it would be un- 
lucky to take money from a castaway. Augusta as stoutly 
insisted ; and, finally, a compromise was come to. Mrs. 
Thomas, being seized with that acute species of home-sick- 
ness from which Suffolk people are no more exempt than 
other folk, was anxious to visit the land where she had been 
born and the people midst whom she was bred up. But 
this she could not well afford to do. Therefore, the 
proffered fifty pounds were appropriated to this purpose, 
and Mrs. Thomas stopped with Augusta at Ponta Delgada, 
waiting for the London and West India Line Packet to 
take them to Southampton. 

So it came to pass that they stood together on the Ponta 
Delgada breakwater and together saw the Harpoon sail off 
towards the setting sun. 

Then came a soft dreamy fortnight in the fair island of 
St. Michael, where Nature is ever as a bride, and never 
reaches the stage of the hardworked, toil-worn mother, 
lank and lean with the burden of maternity. The mental 
act of looking back to this time, in after years, always 
recalled to Augusta's senses the odour of orange-blossoms, 
and the sight of rich pomegranate bloom blushing the roses 
down. It was a pleasant time, for the English Consul 
there most hospitably entertained them — with much more 
personal enthusiasm, indeed, than he generally considered 
it necessary to show towards shipwrecked voyagers — a 
class of people of whom consular representatives abroad 
must get rather tired, with their eternal misfortunes and 
their perennial want of clothes. Indeed, the only draw- 
back to her enjoyment was that the Consul, a gallant 
official, with red hair, equally charmed by her adventures, 
her literary fame, and her person, showed a decided dis- 
position to fall in love with her, and a red-haired and 




M 

Si 



- 
< 



.0 



SOI rHAMPTON QUAY. 165 

therefore ardent Consular officer is, under those circum- 
stances, a somewhat alarming personage. But the time 
went on without anything serious happening, and, at last, 
one morning after breakfast, a man came running up with 
the information that the mail was in sight. 

And so Augusta took an affectionate farewell of the 
golden-haired Consul, who gazed at her through his eye- 
glass, and sighed when he thought of what might have 
been in the sweet by-and-by ; and the ship's bell rang, 
and the screw began to turn, leaving the Consul still 
sighing on the horizon ; and in due course Augusta and 
Mrs. Thomas found themselves standing on the quay at 
Southampton, the centre of an admiring and enthusiastic 
crowd. 

The captain had told the extraordinary tale to the port 
officials when they boarded the vessel, and on getting 
ashore the port officials had made haste to tell every 
living soul they met the wonderful news that two sur- 
vivors of the ill-fated Kangaroo — the history of whose 
tragic end had sent a thrill of horror through the English- 
speaking world — were safe and sound on board the West 
India boat. Thus, by the time that Augusta, Mrs. 
Thomas, and Dick had reached the shore, their story, or 
rather sundry distorted versions of it, were flashing up 
the wires to the various press agencies, and running 
through Southampton like wild-fire. Scarcely were their 
feet set upon the quay, when, with a rush and a bound, 
wild men, with note-books in their hands, sprang upon 
them, and beat them down with a rain of questions. 
Augusta found it impossible to answer them all at once, 
so contented herself with saying, "Yes," "Yes," "Yes," 
to everything, out of which monosyllable, she afterwards 
found to her surprise, these fierce and active pressmen 



iU MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

contrived to make up a sufficiently moving tale ; which 
included glowing accounts of the horrors of the ship- 
wreck, and, what rather took her aback, a positive state- 
ment that she and the sailors had lived for a fortnight 
upon the broiled remains of Mr. Meeson. One interviewer, 
being a small man, and, therefore, unable to kick and 
fight his way through the ring which surrounded Augusta 
and Mrs. Thomas, seized upon little Dick, and commenced 
to chirp and snap his fingers at him in the intervals of 
asking him such questions as he thought suitable to his 

years. 

Dick, dreadfully alarmed, fled with a howl ; but this 
did not prevent a column and a half of matter, headed 
"The Infant's Tale of Woe," from appearing the next 
day in a journal noted for the accuracy and unsensational 
character of its communications. Nor was the army of 
interviewers the only terror that they had to face. Little 
girls gave them bouquets ; an old lady, whose brain was 
permeated with the idea that shipwrecked people went 
about in a condition of undress for much longer than is 
necessary after the event, arrived with an armful of 
underclothing streaming on the breeze ; and last, but 
not least, a tall gentleman, with a beautiful moustache, 
thrust into Augusta's hand a note hastily written in 
pencil, which, when opened, proved to be an offer of 
marriage I 

However, at last they found themselves in a first-class 
carriage, ready to start, or rather starting. The inter- 
viewing pressmen, two of whom had their heads jammed 
through the window, were forcibly torn away — still asking 
questions, by the officials of the company — the tall gentle- 
man with the mustachios, who was hovering in the back- 
ground, smiled a soft farewell, in which modesty struggled 



SOUTHAMPTON QUAY. 167 

visibly with hope, the stationmaster took off his cap, and 
in another minute they were rolling out of Southampton 
Station. 

Augusta sank back with a sigh of relief, and then 
burst out laughing at the thought of the gentleman with 
the fair mustachios. On the seat opposite to her some- 
body had thoughtfully placed a number of the day's 
journals.* She took up the first that came to hand, and 
glanced at it idly with the idea of trying to pick up the 
thread of events. Turning the paper over, she came 
upon the reports of the Probate, Divorce, and Admiralty 
Division of the High Court. The first report ran 
thus : — 



Before the Right Honourable the President. 
In the Matter of Meeson, Deceased. 

This was an application arising out of the loss of the R. M.S. 
Kangaroo on the eighteenth of December last. It will be 
remembered that out of about a thousand souls on board that 
vessel the occupants of one boat only — twenty-five people in all 
— were saved. Among the drowned was Mr. Meeson, the head 
of the well-known Birmingham publishing company of Meeson, 
Addison, Roscoe, & Co., who was at the time on a visit to New 
Zealand and Australia in connection with the business of the 
company. 

Mr. Fiddlestick, Q.C, who with Mr. Pearl appeared for the 
applicants (and who was somewhat imperfectly heard), stated 
that the facts connected with the sinking of the Kangaroo would 
probably still be so fresh in his Lordship's mind that it would 
rot be necessary for him to detail them, although he had them 
upon affidavit before him. His Lordship would remember that 
but one boat-load of people had survived from this, perhaps the 
most terrible shipwreck of the generation. Among the drowned 
was Mr. Meeson ; and this application was on behalf of the 



1 68 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

executors of his will for leave to presume his death. The 
property which passed under the will was very large indeed ; 
amounting in all, Mr. Fiddlestick understood, to about two 
millions sterling, which, perhaps, might incline his Lordship to 
proceed very carefully in allowing probate to issue. 

The President : Well — the amount of the property has got 
nothing to do with the principles on which the Court acts with 
regard to the presumption of death, Mr. Fiddlestick. 

Quite so, my Lord, and I think that in this case your Lord- 
ship will be satisfied that there is no reason why probate should 
not issue. It is, humanly speaking, impossible that Mr. Meeson 
can have escaped the general destruction. 

The President : Have you an affidavit from anybody who 
saw Mr. Meeson in the water ? 

No, my Lord : I have an affidavit from a sailor named Okers, 
the only man who was picked up in the water after the Kangaroo 
foundered, which states that he believes that he saw Mr. Meeson 
spring from the ship into the water, but the affidavit does not 
carry the matter further. He cannot swear that it was Mr. 
Meeson. 

The President : Well, I think that that will do. The Court 
is necessarily adverse to allowing the presumption of death, 
except on evidence of the most satisfactory nature. Still, con- 
sidering that nearly four months have now passed since the 
foundering of the Kangaroo under circumstances which make it 
exceedingly improbable that there were any other survivors, I 
think that it may fairly presume that Mr. Meeson shared the 
fate of the other passengers. 

Mr. Fiddlestick : The death to be presumed from the eighteenth 
of December. 

The President : Yes, from the eighteenth. 

Mr. Fiddlestick : If your Lordship pleases. 

Augusta put down the paper with a gasp. There was 
she, safe and sound, with the true last will of Mr. Meeson 
tattooed upon her ; and " probate had issued " — whatever 
that mysterious formula might mean — of another will, not 
the real last will. It meant (as she in her ignorance 



SOUTHAMPTON QUAY. 



1G9 



supposed) that her will was no good, that she had endured 
that abominable tattooing to no purpose, and was to no 
purpose scarred for life. 

It was too much ; and, in a fit of vexation, she flung 
the Times out of the window, and cast herself back on the 
cushions, feeling very much inclined to cry. 





CHAPTER XIII. 

EUSTACE BUYS A PAPER. 

N due course the train that bore Augusta and her 
fortunes, timed to reach Waterloo at 5.4 p.m., 
rolled into the station. The train was a fast 
one, but the telegraph had been faster. All the 
evening papers had come out with accounts, more or less 
accurate, of their escape, and most of them had added that 
the two survivors would reach Waterloo by the 5.4 express. 
The consequence was, that when the train drew up at the 
platform, Augusta, on looking out, was horrified to see a 
dense mass of human beings being kept in check by a line 
of policemen. 

However, the guard was holding the door open, so there 
was nothing for it but to get out, which she did, taking 
Dick by the hand, a proceeding that necessarily put her 
identity beyond a doubt. The moment she got her foot 
on to the platform, the crowd saw her, and there arose 
such a tremendous shout of welcome that she very nearly 
took refuge again in the carriage. For a moment she 
stood hesitating, and the crowd, seeing how sweet and 
beautiful she was (for the three months of sea air had 



EUSTACE BUYS A PAPER. 171 

made her stouter and even mure lovely >, cheered a, 
with that peculiar enthusiasm which a discerning public 
always shows for a pretty face. But even while she 
stood bewildered on the platform she heard a loud " Make- 
way — make way there ! " and saw the multitude being 
divided by a little knot of officials, who were escorting 
somebody dressed in widow's weeds. 

In another second there was a cry of joy, and a sweet, 
pale-faced little lady had run at the child Dick, and was 
hugging him against her heart, and sobbing and laughing 
both at once. 

" Oh ! my boy ! my boy ! " cried Lady Holmhurst, for 
it was she, "I thought you were dead — long ago dead ! " 

And then she turned, and, before all the people, 
clung about Augusta's neck and kissed her and blessed 
her, because she had saved her only child, and half 
removed the dead weight of her desolation. Whereat 
the crowd cheered, and wept, and yelled, and swore with 
excitement, and blessed their stars that they were there 
to see. 

And then, in a haze of noise and excitement, they were 
led through the cheering mob to where a carriage and 
pair were standing, and helped into it, Mrs. Thomas 
being placed on the front seat and Lady Holmhurst and 
Augusta on the back, the former with the gasping Dick 
upon her knee. 

And now little Dick is out of the story. 

Then another event occurred, which we must go back a 
little way to explain. 

When Eustace Meeson had come to town, after being 
formally disinherited, he had managed to get a billet as 
Latin, French, and Old English reader in a publishing 
house of repute. As it happened, on this very afternoon 



1 72 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

he was strolling down the Strand, having finished a rather 
stiff day's work, his mind filled with those idle and 
somewhat confused odds and ends of speculation with 
which most brain-workers will be acquainted. He looked 
older and paler than when we last met him, for sorrow 
and misfortune had laid their heavy hands upon him. 
When Augusta was gone, he had discovered that he 
was head over heels in love with her in that unfortunate 
way — for, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it is un- 
fortunate — in which many men of susceptibility do occa- 
sionally fall in love in their youth, — a way that brands 
the heart for life in a fashion that can no more be effaced 
than the stamp of a hot iron can be effaced from the 
physical body. Such an affection — which is not altogether 
of the earth — will, when it overcomes a man, prove either 
the greatest blessing of his life or one of the most 
enduring curses that a malignant fate can heap upon 
his head. For if he achieves his desire, even though he 
serve his seven years, surely for him life will be robbed 
of half its evil. But if he lose her, either through mis- 
fortune or because he gave all this to one who did not 
understand the gift, or one who looked at love and on her- 
self as a currency wherewith to buy her place and the 
luxury of days, then he will be of all men among the 
most miserable. For nothing can give him back that 
which has gone from him. 

Eustace had seen Augusta but twice in his life ; 
but then passion does not necessarily depend upon con- 
stant previous intercourse with its object. Love at first 
sight is common enough, and in this instance Eustace 
was not altogether dependent upon the spoken words of 
his adored, or on his recollection of her very palpable 
beauty, for he had her books. To those who know 



EUSTACE BUYS A PAPER. 173 

something of the writer — sufficient, let us say, to enable 
him to put an approximate value on his or her sentiments, 
so as to form a more or less accurate guess as to when 
he is speaking from his own mind, when he is speaking 
from the mind of the puppet in hand, and when he is 
merely putting a case — a person's books are full of infor- 
mation, and bring that person into a closer and more 
intimate contact with the reader than any amount of 
personal intercourse. For whatever is best and whatever 
is worst in an individual will be reflected in his pages, 
seeing that, unless he is the poorest of hack authors, he 
must of necessity set down therein the images that pass 
across the mirrors of his heart. 

Thus it seemed to Eustace, who knew " Jemima's Vow " 
and also her previous abortive work almost by heart, that 
he was very intimately acquainted with Augusta, and as 
he walked home that May evening, he was reflecting 
sadly enough on all that he had lost through that cruel 
shipwreck. He had lost Augusta, and, what was more, he 
had lost his uncle and his uncle's vast fortune. For he, 
too, had seen the report of the application re Meeson in 
the Times, and, though he knew that he was disinherited, 
it was a little crushing. He had lost the fortune for 
Augusta's sake, and now he had lost Augusta also ; and 
he reflected, not without dismay, on the long dreary 
existence that stretched away before him, filled up as it 
were with prospective piles of Latin proofs. With a 
sigh he halted at the Wellington Street crossing in the 
Strand, which, owing to the constant stream of traffic at 
this point, is one of the worst in London. There was a 
block at the moment, as there generally is, and he stood 
for some minutes watching the frantic dashes of an old 
woman, who always tried to cross at the wrong time, not 



174 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

without some amusement. Presently, however, a boy with 
a bundle of unfolded Globes under his arm came rushing 
along, making the place hideous with his howls. 

" Wonderful escape of a lady and han hinfant ! " he 
roared. " Account of the survivors of the Kangaroo — 
wonderful escape — desert island — arrival of the Magnolia 
with the criminals." 

Eustace jumped, and instantly bought a copy of the 
paper, stepping into the doorway of a shop where they 
sold masonic jewels of every size and hue in order to read 
it. The very first thing that his eye fell on was an 
editorial paragraph. 

" In another column," ran the paragraph, "will be 
found a short account, telegraphed to us from Southampton 
just as we are going to press, of the most remarkable tale 
of the sea that we are acquainted with. The escape of 
Miss Augusta Smithers and of the little Lord Holmhurst 
— as we suppose that we must now call him — from 
the ill-fated Kangaroo, and their subsequent rescue, 
on Kerguelen Land, by the American whaler, will 
certainly take rank as the most romantic incident of its 
kind in the recent annals of shipwreck. Miss Smithers, 
who will be better known to the public as the authoress 
of that charming book, 'Jemima's Vow,' which took the 
town by storm about a year ago, will arrive at Waterloo 
Station by the 5.4 train, and we shall then" 

Eustace read no more. Sick and faint with an 
extraordinary revulsion of feeling, he leaned against the 
door of the masonic shop, which promptly opened in 
the most hospitable manner, depositing him upon his 
back on the floor of the establishment. In a second 
he was up, and had bounded out of the shop with 
such energy that the shopman was on the point of 



EUSTACE BUYS A PAPER. 175 

holloaing "Stop thief!" It was exactly five o'clock, 
and he was not more than a quarter of a mile or so 
from Waterloo Station. A hansom was sauntering along 
in front of him; he sprang into it. "Waterloo, main 
line," he shouted, " as hard as you can go," and in another 
moment he was rolling across the bridge. Five or six 
minutes' drive brought him to the station, to which an 
enormous . number of people were hurrying, collected 
together partly by a rumour of what was going on, and 
partly by that magnetic contagion of excitement which 
runs through a London mob like fire through dry 
grass. 

He dismissed the hansom, throwing the driver half-a- 
crown, which, considering that half-crowns were none too 
plentiful with him, was a rash thing to do, and vigorously 
shouldered his way through the crush till he reached the 
spot where the carriage and pair were standing. The 
carriage was just beginning to move on. 

" Stop ! " he shouted at the top of his voice to the 
coachman, who pulled up again. In another moment he 
was alongside, and there, sweeter and more beautiful than 
ever, he once more saw his love. 

She started at his voice, which she seemed to know, 
and their eyes met. Their eyes met, and a great light of 
happiness shot into her sweet face and shone there till it 
was covered up and lost in the warm blush that followed. 

He tried to speak, but could not. Twice he tried, and 
twice he failed, and meanwhile the mob shouted like any- 
thing. At last, however, he got it out — "Thank God!" 
he stammered, "thank God, you are safe ! " 

For answer, she stretched out her hand and gave him 
one sweet look. He took it, and once more the carriage 
began to move on. 



176 



MR. MEESON'S WILL. 



" Where are you to be found ? " he had the presence 
of mind to ask. 

"At Lady Holmhurst's. Come to-morrow morning; I 
have something to tell you," she answered, and in another 
minute the carriage was gone, leaving him standing there 
in a condition of mind which really " can be better imagined 
than described." 




CHAPTER XIV. 



AT HANOVER SQUARE. 




jUSTACE could never quite remember how he 
got through the evening of that eventful day. 
Everything connected with it seemed hazy to 
him. As, fortunately for the reader of this 
history, we are, however, not altogether dependent on the 
memory of a young man in love, which is always a 
treacherous thing to deal with, having other and exclusive 
sources of information, we may as well fill the gap. 
Eirst of all he went to his club and seized a " Red-book," 
in which he discovered that Lord Holmhurst's, or, rather, 
Lady Holmhurst's, London house was in Hanover Square. 
Then he walked to his rooms in one of the little side- 
streets opening out of the Strand, and went through the 
form of eating some dinner; after which a terrible fit of 
restlessness got possession of him, and he started out 
Iking. For three solid hours did that young man 
walk, which was, no doubt, a good thing for him, for one 
never gets enough exercise in London ; and at the end 
of that time, having already been to Hammersmith and 
back, he found himself gravitating towards Hanover 

M 



178 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

Square. Once there, he had little difficulty in finding 
the number. There was light on the drawing-room 
floor, and, the night being warm, one of the windows 
was open, so that the lamp-light shone softly through 
the lace curtains. Eustace crossed over to the other 
side of the street, and, leaning against the iron railings 
of the square, looked up. He was rewarded for his 
pains, for, through the filmy curtain, he could make out 
the forms of two ladies seated side by side upon an 
ottoman, with their faces towards the window, and in 
one of these he had no difficulty in recognising Augusta. 
Her head was leaning on her hand, and she was talking 
earnestly to her companion. He wondered what she 
was talking of, and had half a mind to go and ring, and 
ask to see her. Why should he wait till to-morrow 
morning ? Presently, however, better counsels prevailed, 
and, though sorely against his will, he stopped where he 
was till a policeman, thinking his rapt gaze suspicious, 
gruffly requested him to move on. 

To gaze at one's only love through an open window 
is, no doubt, a delightful occupation, if a somewhat 
tantalising one ; but if Eustace's ears had been as good 
as his eyes, and he could have heard the conversation 
that was going on in the drawing-room, he would have 
been still more interested. 

Augusta had just been unfolding that part of her 
story which dealt with the important document tattooed 
upon her, to which Lady Holmhurst had listened "ore 
rotundo." 

" And so the young man is coming here to-morrow morn- 
ing," said Lady Holmhurst ; " how delightful ! I am sure he 
looked a very nice young man, and he had very fine eyes. 
It is the most romantic thing that I ever heard of." 



AT HANOVER SQUARE. 179 

" It may be delightful for you, Bessie," said Augusta, 
rather tartly, " but I call it disgusting. It is all very 
well to be tattooed upon a desert island — not that that was 
very nice, I can tell you ; but it is quite another thing 
to have to show the results in a London drawing-room. 
Of course, Mr. Meeson will want to see this will, what- 
ever it may be worth ; and I should like to ask you, 
Bessie, how I am to show it to him ? It is on my 
neck." 

" I have not observed," said Lady Holmhurst drily, 
" that ladies, as a rule, have an insuperable objection to 
showing their necks. If you have any doubt on the 
point, I recommend you to get an invitation to a London 
ball. All you will have to do will be to wear a low 
dress." 

" I have never worn a low dress," said Augusta. 

"Ah, well," said Lady Holmhurst darkly; "I daresay 
that you will soon get used to that. But, of course, if 
you won't, you won't ; and, under those circumstances, 
you had better say nothing about the will — though," she 
added learnedly, " of course that would be compounding 
a felony." 

" Would it ? I don't quite see where the felony 
comes in." 

"Well, of course, it is this way: you steal the will — 
that's felony ; and if you don't show it to him, I suppose 
you compound it; it is a double offence — compound 
felony." 

" Nonsense ! " answered Augusta to this exposition of 
the law, which was, it will be admitted, almost as lucid 
and convincing as that of an average Q.C. " How can 
I steal my own shoulders? It is impossible." 

" Oh, no ; not at all. You don't know what funny 



i8o MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

things you can do. I once had a cousin whom I 
coached for his examination for the Bar, and I learnt a 
great deal about it then. Poor fellow ! he was plucked 
eight times." 

" I am sure I don't wonder at it," said Augusta rudely. 
" Well, I suppose I must put on this low dress ; but it 
is horrid — perfectly horrid 1 You will have to lend me 
one, that is all." 

" My dear," answered Lady Holmhurst, with a glance 
at her widow's weeds, " I have no low dresses ; 
though, perhaps, I can find some among the things 
I put away before we sailed," and her eyes filled with 
tears. 

Augusta took her hand, and they began to talk of that 
great bereavement, and of their own wonderful survival, 
till at last she led the conversation round to little Dick, and 
Bessie Holmhurst smiled again at the thought that her 
darling boy, her only child, was safe asleep upstairs, and 
not, as she had believed, washing to and fro at the bottom 
of the ocean. She took Augusta's hand and kissed it, and 
blessed her for having saved the child, till suddenly, some- 
what to the relief of the latter, the butler opened the door 
and said that two gentlemen wanted very particularly to 
speak to Miss Smithers. And then she was once more 
handed over to her old enemies, the interviewers ; and 
after them came the representatives of the company, and 
then more special reporters, and then an artist from one 
of the illustrated papers, who insisted upon her giving 
him an appointment in language that, though polite, indi- 
cated that he meant to have his way ; and so on till 
nearly midnight, when she rushed off to bed and locked 
her door. 

Next morning Augusta appeared at breakfast dressed in 



AT HANOVER SQUARE. 

an exceedingly becoming low dress, which Lady Ilolm- 
hurst sent up with her hot water. She had never worn 
one before, and it certainly is trying to put on a low 
dress for the first time in full daylight — indeed, she 
felt as guilty as does a person of temperate habits when 
he is persuaded to drink a brandy and soda before getting 
up. However, there was no help for it ; so, throwing a 
shawl over her shoulders, she descended. 

" My dear, do let me see," said Lady Holmhurst, as 
soon as the servant had left the room. 

With a sigh Augusta took off the shawl, and her 
friend ran round the table to look. There, on her 
neck, was the will. The cuttle ink had proved an excel- 
lent medium, and the tattooing was as fresh as the day 
on which it had been done, and would, no doubt, remain 
so till the last hour of her life. 

"Well," said Lady Holmhurst, "I hope that the young 
man will be duly grateful. I should have to be very 
much in love," and she looked meaningly at Augusta, 
" before I would spoil myself in that fashion for any 
man." 

Augusta blushed at the insinuation, and said nothing. 
At ten o'clock, just as they were half through breakfast, 
there came a ring at the bell. 

"There he is," said Lady Holmhurst, clapping her 
hands. " Well, if this isn't the very funniest thing that 
I ever heard of! I told Jones to show him in here." 

Hardly were the words out of her mouth when the 
butler, who looked as solemn as a mute in his deep 
mourning, opened the door, and announced " Mr. Eustace 
Meeson," in those deep and commanding tones which 
flunkeys, and flunkeys alone, have at their command. 
There was a moment's pause. Augusta half rose from 



1 82 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

her chair, and then sat down again ; and, noticing her 
embarrassment, Lady Holmhurst smiled maliciously. Then 
in came Eustace himself, looking rather handsome, exceed- 
ingly nervous, and beautifully got up — in a frock-coat, 
with a flower in it. 

" Oh ! how do you do ? " he said to Augusta, holding 
out his hand, which she took rather coldly. 

" How do you do, Mr. Meeson ? " she answered. " Let 
me introduce you to Lady Holmhurst. Mr. Meeson, 
Lady Holmhurst." Eustace bowed, and put his hat 
down on the butter-dish, for he was very much over- 
come. 

" I hope that I have not come too early," he said in 
great confusion, as he perceived his mistake. " I thought 
that you would have done breakfast." 

"Oh, not at all, Mr. Meeson," said Lady Holmhurst. 
"Won't you have a cup of tea? Augusta, give Mr. 
Meeson a cup of tea." 

He took the tea, which he did not want in the least, 
and then there came an awkward silence. Nobody seemed 
to know how to begin the conversation. 

" How did you find the house, Mr. Meeson ? " said Lady 
Holmhurst, at last. " Miss Smithers gave you no address, 
and there are two Lady Holmhursts — my mother-in-law 
and myself." 

" Oh, I looked it out, and then I walked here last night 
and saw you both sitting at the window." 

" Indeed ! " said Lady Holmhurst. "And why did you 
not come in ? You might have helped to protect Miss 
Smithers from the reporters." 

" I don't know," he answered confusedly. " I did not 
like to ; and, besides, a policeman thought I was a sus- 
picious character, and told me to move on." 



AT HANOVER SQUARE. 183 

" Dear me, Mr. Meeson ; you must have been having 
a good look at us." 

Here Augusta interposed, fearing lest her admirer — 
for, with an unerring instinct, she now guessed how 
matters stood — should say something foolish. A young 
man who is capable of standing to stare at a house in 
Hanover Square is, she thought, evidently capable of 
anything'. 

" I was so surprised to see you yesterday," she said. 
" How did you know that we were coming ? " 

Eustace told her that he had seen it in the Globe. " I 
am sure you cannot have been so surprised as I was," he 
went on. " I had made sure that you were drowned. I 
went up to Birmingham to call on you after you had gone, 
and found that you had vanished and left no address. 
The maid-servant declared that you had sailed in a ship 
called the Conger Eel — which I afterwards found out was 
the Kangaroo. And then she went down ; and after a 
long time they published a full list of the passengers, 
and your name was not among them, and I thought that 
after all you might have got off the ship or something. 
Then, some days afterwards, came a telegram from Albany, 
in Australia, giving the names of Lady Holmhurst and 
the others who were saved, and specially mentioning 
'Miss Smithers — the novelist' and Lord Holmhurst as 
being nmong the drowned, and that is how the dread- 
ful suspense came to an end. It was awful, I can 
tell you." 

Both of the young women looked at Eustace's face 
and saw that there was no mistaking the real nature 
of the trial through which he had passed. So real was 
it, that it never seemed to occur to him that there was 
anything unusual in his expressing such intense interest 



184 MR. MEESON'S WILL 

in the affairs of a young lady with whom he was out- 
wardly, at any rate, on the terms of merest acquaint- 
ance. 

" It was very kind of you to think so much about 
me," said Augusta gently. " I had no idea that you 
would call again, or I would have left word where I was 






going 

" Well, thank Heaven you are safe and sound, at any 
rate," answered Eustace ; and then, with a sudden burst 
of anxiety, "you are not going back to New Zealand just 
yet, are you ? " 

" I don't know. I am rather sick of the sea at 
present." 

" No, indeed, she is not," said Lady Holmhurst ; " she 
is going to stop with me and Dick. Miss Smithers saved 
Dick's life, you know, when the nurse, poor thing, had run 
away. And now, dear, you had better tell Mr. Meeson 
about the will." 

" The will. What will ? " asked Eustace. 

" Listen, and you will hear." 

And Eustace did listen with open eyes and ears while 
Augusta, getting over her shyness as best she might, 
told the whole story of his uncle's death, and of the 
way in which he had communicated his testamentary 
wishes. 

" And do you mean to tell me," said Eustace, 
astounded, " that you allowed him to have his confounded 
will tattooed upon you ? " 

" Yes," answered Augusta, " I did ; and, what is more, 
Mr. Meeson, I think that you ought to be very much 
obliged to me ; for I daresay that I shall . often be sorry 
for it." 

I am very much obliged," answered Eustace. " I had 



AT HANOVER SQUARE. 185 

no right to expect such a thing, and, in short, I do not 
know what to say. I should never have thought that 
any woman was capable of such a sacrifice for — for a 
comparative stranger." 

Then came another awkward pause. 

"Well, Mr. Meeson," said Augusta at last, rising 
brusquely from her chair, " the document belongs to 
you, and so I suppose that you had better see it. Not 
that I think that it will be of much use to you, how- 
ever, as I see that ' probate had been allowed to issue,' 
whatever that may mean, of Mr. Meeson's other will." 

" I do not know that that will matter," said Eustace, 
"as I heard a friend of mine, Mr. Short, who is a 
barrister, talk about some case the other day in which 
probate was revoked on the production of a subsequent 
will." 

"Indeed!" answered Augusta, "I am very glad to 
hear that. Then perhaps, after all, I have been tattooed 
to some purpose. Well ; I suppose you had better see 
it," and with a gesture that was half shy and half de- 
fiant, she drew off the lace shawl, and turned her back 
towards him so that he might see what was inscribed 
across it. 

Eustace stared at the broad line of letters, which, with 
the signatures written underneath, might mean a matter of 
two millions of money to him. 

"Thank you," he said at last, and, taking up the shawl, 
he threw it over her again. 

"If you will excuse me for a few minutes, Mr. Meeson," 
interrupted Lady Holmhurst at this point ; " I have to go 
and sec about the dinner," and before Augusta could 
interfere she had left the room. 

Eustace closed the door behind her, and turned, feeling 



186 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

instinctively that a great crisis in his fortunes had come. 
There are some men who rise to an emergency, and some 
who shrink from it, and the difference is that difference 
between the man who succeeds and the man who fails in 
life, and in all which makes life worth living. 

Eustace belonged to the class that rises, and not to that 
which shrinks. 




CHAPTER XV. 



EUSTACE CONSULTS A LAWYER. 




the air 



jUGUSTA was leaning against the marble mantel- 
piece — indeed, one of her arms was resting 
upon it, for she was a tall woman. Perhaps 
she, too, felt that there was something in 
at any rate, she turned away her head, and 
began to play with a bronze Japanese lobster which 
adorned the mantelpiece. 

" Now for it," said Eustace to himself, drawing a 
long breath, to try and steady the violent pulsation of 
his heart. 

" I don't know what to say to you, Miss Smithers," he 
began. 

" Best say nothing more about it," she put in quickly. 
" I did it, and I am glad that I did it. What do a 
few marks matter if a great wrong is prevented thereby ? 
I am not ever likely to have to go to court. Besides, 
Mr. Meeson, there is another thing : it was through me 
that you lost your inheritance ; it is only right that 
I should try to be the means of bringing it back to 
you." 



1 88 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

She dropped her head again, and once more began 
to play with the bronze lobster, holding her arm in 
such a fashion that Eustace could not -see her face. But 
if he could not see her face she could see his in the 
glass, and narrowly observed its every change, which, on 
the whole, though natural, was rather mean of her. 

Poor Eustace grew pale and paler yet, till his handsome 
countenance became positively ghastly. It is wonderful 
how frightened young men are the first time that they 
propose. It wears off afterwards — with practice one gets 
accustomed to anything. 

" Miss Smithers — Augusta," he gasped, " I want to say 
something to you ! " and he stopped dead. 

"Yes, Mr. Meeson," she answered cheerfully, "what 
is it ? " 

" I want to tell you" — and again he hesitated. 

" What you are going to do about the will ? " suggested 
Augusta. 

"No — no; nothing about the will — please don't laugh 
at me and put me off! " 

She looked up innocently — as much as to say that 
she never dreamed of doing either of these things. She 
had a lovely face, and the glance of her grey eyes quite 
broke down the barrier of his fears. 

" Oh, Augusta, Augusta," he said, " don't you under- 
stand ? I love you ! I love you ! No woman was 
ever loved before as I love you. I fell in love with 
you the very first time I saw you in the office at 
Meeson's, when I had the row with my uncle about 
you ; and ever since then I have got deeper and deeper 
in love with you. When I thought that you were 
drowned it nearly broke my heart, and often and often 
I wished that I were dead too ! " 



EUSTACE CONSULTS A LAWYER. 189 

It was Augusta's turn to be disturbed now, for, thou, 
a lady's composure will stand her in good stead up 
to the very verge of an affair of this sort, it generally 
breaks down in ntedias res. Anyhow, she certainly 
dropped her eyes and coloured to her hair, while her 
breast began to heave tumultuously. 

" Do you know, Mr. Meeson," she said at last, without 
daring to look up at his imploring face, " this is only 
the fourth time that we have seen each other, including 
yesterday." 

" Yes, I know," he said ; " but don't refuse me on 
that account ; you can see me as often as you like " 
— (this was generous of Master Eustace) — " and really 
I know you better than you think. I believe that I 
have read each of your books twenty times." 

This was a happy stroke, for, however free from vanity 
a person may be, it is not in the nature of a young woman 
to hear that somebody has read her book twenty times 
without feeling pleased. 

" I am not my books," said Augusta. 

" No ; but your books are part of you," he answered, 
" and I have learnt more about your real self through 
them than I should have done if I had seen you a hundred 
times instead of four." 

Augusta slowly raised her eyes till they met his 
own, and looked at him as though she were searching 
out his soul, and the memory of that long, sweet luuk 
is with him yet. 

He said no more, nor had she any words ; but, some- 
how, nearer and nearer they drew one to the other, 
till his arms were around her, and his lips were pressed 
upon her lips. Happy man and happy girl ! they will 
live to find that life has joys (for those who are good 



i9° MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

and are well off), but that it has no joy so holy and 
so complete as that which they were now experiencing 
— the first kiss of true and honest love. 

A little while afterwards the butler entered the room in 
a horribly sudden manner, and found Augusta and Eus- 
tace, the one very red and the other very pale, standing 
suspiciously close to each other. But he was a well- 
trained butler and a man of experience, who had seen 
much and guessed more ; and he looked innocent as a 
babe unborn. 

Just then, too, Lady Holmhurst came in again, and 
glanced at the pair of them with an amused twinkle in 
her eye. Lady Holmhurst, like her butler, was also a 
person of experience. 

"Won't you come into the drawing-room?" she said. 
And they did, looking rather sheepish. 

And there Eustace made a clean breast of it, announc- 
ing that they were engaged to be married. And although 
this was somewhat of an assumption, seeing that no 
actual words of troth had passed between them, Augusta 
stood silent, never offering a word in contradiction. 

" Well, Mr. Meeson," said Lady Holmhurst, " I think 
that you are the luckiest man of my acquaintance, for 
Augusta is not only one of the sweetest and loveliest 
girls that I have ever met, she is also the bravest and 
the cleverest. You will have to look out, Mr. Meeson, 
or you will be known as the husband of the great Augusta 
Meeson." 

" I will take the risk," he answered humbly. " I know 
that Augusta has more brains in her little finger than I 
have in my whole body. I don't know how she can 
look at a fellow like me." 

'Dear me, how humble we are 1 " said Lady Holm- 



EUSTACE CONSULTS A LAWYER. 191 

hurst. " Well, that is the way of men before marriage. 
And now, as Augusta carries both your fortunes on her 
neck as well as in her face and brain, I venture to 
suggest that you had better go and see a lawyer about 
the matter ; that is, if you have quite finished your 
little talk. I suppose that you will come and dine with 
us, Mr. Meeson, and if you like to come rather early, 
say half-past six, I daresay that Augusta will arrange 
to be in, to hear what you have found out about this will, 
you know. And now — au revoir." 

" I think that that is a very nice young man, my dear," 
said Lady Holmhurst as soon as Eustace had bowed 
himself out. " It was rather audacious of him to propose 
to you the fourth time that he set eyes upon you ; but 
I think that audacity is, on the whole, a good quality in 
the male sex. Another thing is, that if this will is 
worth anything, he will be one of the wealthiest men in 
the whole of England ; so, taking it altogether, I think 
that I may congratulate you, my dear. And now I 
suppose that you have been in love with this young 
man all along. I guessed as much when I saw your 
face as he ran up to the carriage yesterday, and I was 
sure of it when I heard about the tattooing. No girl 
would allow herself to be tattooed in the interest of 
abstract justice. Oh, yes ! I know all about it ; and 
now I am going out walking in the park with Dick, and 
I should advise you to compose yourself, for that artist 
is coming to draw you at twelve." 

And she went, and left Augusta to her reflections, 
which were — well, not unpleasant ones. 

Meanwhile Eustace was marching up towards the 
Temple. As it happened, in the same lodging-house 
where he had been living for the last few months, two 



192 MR. MEESON'S WILL 

brothers of the name of Short had rooms, and with these 
young gentlemen he had become very friendly. The 
Shorts were twins, and so like one another that it 
was more than a month before Eustace could be sure 
which of them he was speaking to. When they were 
both at college their father died, leaving his property 
equally between them ; and as this property on realisation 
was not found to amount to more than four hundred a 
year, the twins very rightly concluded that they had 
better do something to supplement their moderate income. 
Accordingly, by a stroke of genius they determined that 
one of them should become a solicitor and the other a 
barrister, and then tossed up as to who should take 
to which trade. The idea, of course, was that in this 
manner they would be able to afford each other mutual 
comfort and support. John would give James briefs, and 
James's reflected glory would shine back on John. In 
short, they were anxious to establish a legal long firm of 
the most approved pattern. 

Accordingly, they passed their respective examinations, 
and John took rooms with another budding solicitor in 
the City, while James hired chambers in Pump Court. 
But there the matter stopped, for as John did not get 
any work, of course he could not give any to James. 
And so it came to pass that for the past three years 
neither of the twins had found the law as profitable 
as they anticipated. In vain did John sit and sigh in 
the City. Clients were few and far between : scarcely 
enough to pay his rent. And in vain did James, artisti- 
cally robed, wander like the Evil One, from court to 
court, seeking what he might devour. Occasionally he 
had the pleasure of " taking a note " for some barrister 
who was called away, which means doing another man's 



EUS1 ACE CONSULTS A I WW IK. 193 

work for nothing. Once, too, a man with whom he had 
.1 nodding acquaintance rushed up to him, and, thrusting 
a brief into his hands, asked him to hold it for him, telling 
him that it would be on in a short time, and that there 
was nothing in it — " nothing at all." Scarcely had poor 
James struggled through the brief when the case \ 
called on, and it may suffice to say that, at its conclusion, 
the Judge gazed at him mildly over his spectacles, and 
" could not help wondering that any learned counsel had 
been found who would consent to waste the time of the 
Court in such a case as the one to which he had been 
listening." Clearly James's friend would not so consent, 
and had passed on the responsibility, minus the fee. 

On another occasion, James was in the Probate Court 
on motion day, and a solicitor — a real live solicitor — came 
up to him and asked him to make a motion (marked Mr. 

, 2 gns.J for leave to dispense with a co-respondent. 

This motion he made, and the co-respondent was dis- 
pensed with in the approved fashion ; but when he turned 
round the solicitor had vanished, and he never saw him 
more or the two guineas either. However, the brief, his 
only one, remained, and, after that, he took to hovering 
about the Probate Court, partly in the hope of once more 
seeing that solicitor, and partly with a vague idea of drift- 
ing into practice in the Division. 

Now, Eustace had often, when in the Shorts' sitting- 
room in the lodging-house in the Strand, heard the bar- 
rister James hold forth learnedly on the matter of wills, 
and, therefore, he naturally enough turned towards him 
in his dilemma. Knowing the address of his chambers 
in Pump Court, he hurried thither, and was in due- 
course admitted by a very small child, who apparently 
filled the responsible office of clerk to Mr. James Short and 



194 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

several other learned gentlemen, whose names appeared 
upon the door. 

This infant regarded Eustace, when he opened the 
door, with a look of such preternatural sharpness, that 
it almost frightened him. The beginning of that eagle 
glance was full of inquiring hope, and the end of resigned 
despair. The child had thought that Eustace might be a 
client come to tread the paths which no client ever trod. 
Hence the hope and the despair written in his eyes. Eus- 
tace had nothing of the solicitor's clerk about him. Clearly 
he was not a client. 

Mr. Short was in " that door to the right." Eustace 
knocked, and entered into a bare little chamber about the 
size of a large housemaid's closet, furnished with a table, 
three chairs (one a basket easy), and a book-case, con- 
taining a couple of dozen of law books, and some odd 
volumes of reports, and a broad window-sill, in the exact 
centre of which lay the solitary and venerated brief. 

Mr. James Short was a short, stout young man, with 
black eyes, a hooked nose, and a prematurely bald head. 
Indeed, this baldness of the head was the only distinguish- 
ing mark between James and John, and, therefore, a thing 
to be thankful for, though, of course, useless to the per- 
plexed acquaintance who met them in the street when 
their hats were on. At the moment of Eustace's entry 
Mr. Short had been engaged in studying that intensely 
legal print, the Sporting Times, which, however, from 
some unexplained bashfulness, he had hastily thrown 
under the table, filling its space with a law book snatched 
at hazard from the shelf. 

"All right, old fellow," said Eustace, whose quick eyes 
had caught the flutter of the vanishing paper; "don't 
be alarmed ; it's only me." 



EUS1 ACE O iNSUl TS A LAWYER. 

"Ah!" said Mr. Janus Short, when he had shaken 
hands with him, "you see I thought that it might have 
been a client — a client is always possible, how* 
improbable, and one has to be ready to meet the 
possibility." 

"Quite so, old fellow," said Eustace; "but do you 
know, as it happens, I am a client — and a big one, too ; 
it is a' matter of two millions of money — my uncle's 
fortune. There was another will, and I want to take your 
advice." 

Mr. Short fairly bounded out of his chair in exultation, 
and then, struck by another thought, sank back into it 
again. 

" My dear Meeson," he said, "I am sorry I cannot hear 
you ! " 

" Eh ! " said Eustace ; " what do you mean ? " 

" I mean that you are not accompanied by a solicitor ; 
and it is not the etiquette of the profession to which I 
belong to see a client unaccompanied by a solicitor." 

"Oh, hang the etiquette of the profession !" 

" My dear Meeson, if you came to me as a friend I 
should be happy to give you any legal information in my 
power, and I flatter myself that I know something of 
matters connected with probate. But you yourself have 
said that you come as a client, and in that case the personal 
relationship sinks into the background and is superseded 
by the official relationship. Under these circumstances it 
is evident that the etiquette of the profession intervenes, 
which overmastering force compels me to point out to you 
how improper and contrary to precedent it would be for 
me to listen to you without the presence of a duly qualified 
solicitor." 

"(J Lord!" ga=ped Eustace, "I had no idea you were 



196 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

so particular ; I thought that perhaps you would be glad 
of the job." 

" Certainly — certainly ! In the present state of my 
practice," as he glanced at the solitary brief, " I should 
be the last to wish to turn away work. Let me suggest 
that you should go and consult my brother John, in the 
Poultry. I believe business is rather slack with him just 
now, so I think it probable that you will find him dis- 
engaged. Indeed, I dare say that I may go so far as to 
make an appointment for him here — let us say in an 
hour's time. Stop ! I will consult my clerk ! Robert ! " 

The infant appeared. 

" I believe that I have no appointment for this morning ? " 

" No, sir," said Robert, with a twinkle in his eye. " One 
moment, sir ; I will consult the book," and he vanished, to 
return presently with the information that Mr. Short's time 
was not under any contributions that day. 

" Very good," said Mr. Short ; " then make an entry of 
an appointment with Mr. John Short and Mr. Meeson at 
two precisely." 

"Yes, sir," said Robert, departing to the unaccustomed 
task. 

As soon as Eustace had departed from Tweedledum to 
Tweedledee, or, in other words, from James, barrister, to 
John, solicitor, Robert was again summoned and bade go to 
a certain Mr. Thomson on the next floor. Mr. Thomson 
had an excellent library, which had come to him by will. 
On the strength of this bequest he had become a barrister- 
at-law, and the object of Robert's visit was to request the 
loan of the eighth volume of the statutes revised, con- 
taining the Wills Act of I Vic, cap. 26, " Brown on 
Probate," " Dixon on Probate," and " Powles on Brown," 
to the study of which valuable books Mr. James Short 



EUSTACE CONSULTS A LAWYER. 197 

devoted himself earnestly whilst awaiting his client's 
return. 

Meanwhile, Eustace had made his way in a twopenny 
'bus to one of those busy courts in the City where Mr. 
John Short practised as a solicitor. Mr. Short's office 
was, Eustace discovered by referring to a notice board, on 
the seventh floor of one of the tallest houses he had ( 
seen. However, up he went with a stout heart, and, after 
some five minutes of a struggle, that reminded him forcibly 
of climbing the ladders of a Cornish mine, he arrived at a 
little door right at the very top of the house, on which was 
painted " Mr. John Short, Solicitor." Eustace knocked, 
and the door was opened by a small boy, so like the small 
boy he had seen at Mr. James Short's chambers in the 
Temple, that he fairly started. Afterwards the mystery 
was explained. Like their masters, the two small boys 
were brothers. 

Mr. John Short was within, and Eustace was ushered 
into his presence. To all appearances he was consulting 
a voluminous mass of correspondence written on large 
sheets of brief paper ; but when he looked at it closely, 
it seemed to Eustace that the edges of the paper were 
very yellow, and that the ink was much faded. This, 
however, was not to be wondered at, seeing that Mr. 
John Short had taken them over with the other fixtures 
of the office. 



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CHAPTER XVI. 



SHORT ON LEGAL ETIQUETTE. 




ELL, Meeson, what is it ? Have you come to 
ask me to lunch ? " asked Mr. John Short. 
" Do you know I actually thought that you 
might have been a client." 

" Well, by Jove, old fellow, and so I am," answered 
Eustace. " I have been to your brother, and he has sent 
me on to you, because he says that it is not the etiquette 
of the profession to see a client unless a solicitor is 
present, so he has referred me to you." 

" Perfectly right ; perfectly right of my brother James, 
Meeson. Considering how small are his opportunities of 
becoming cognisant with the practice of his profession, it 
is extraordinary how well he is acquainted with its theory. 
And now, what is the point ? " 

"Well, do you know, Short, as the point is rather a 
long one, and as your brother said that he should expect 
us at two precisely, I think that we had better take the 
'bus back to the Temple, when I can tell the yarn to both 
of you at once." 

" Very well. I do not, as a general rule, like leaving 



SHORT ON LEGAL ETIQUETTE. 199 

my office at this time of day, as it is apt to put clients 
to inconvenience, especially such of them as come from a 
distance. But I will make an exception for you, Mecson. 
William," he went on, to the counterpart of the Pump 
Court infant, " if any one calls to see me, will you be so 
good as to tell him that I am engaged in an important 
conference at the chambers of Mr. Short, in Pump Court, 
but that I hope to be back by half-past three ? " 

"Yes, sir," said William, as he shut the door behind 
them ; " certainly, sir." And then, having replaced the 
musty documents upon the shelf, whence they could be 
fetched down without difficulty on the slightest sign of a 
client, that ingenuous youth, with singular confidence that 
nobody would be inconvenienced thereby, put a notice on 
the door to the effect that he would be back immediatelv, 
and adjourned to indulge in the passionately exhilarating 
game of "chuck farthing" with various other small clerks 
of his acquaintance. 

In due course, Eustace and his legal adviser arrived 
at Pump Court, and, oh ! how the heart of James, the 
barrister, swelled with pride when, for the first time in 
his career, he saw a real solicitor enter his chambers 
accompanied by a real client. lie would, indeed, have 
preferred it if the solicitor had not happened to be his 
twin-brother, and the client had been some other than 
his intimate friend ; but still it was a blessed sight — a 
very blessed sight ! 

" Will you be seated, gentlemen ? " he said with much 
dignity. 

They obeyed. 

" And now, Meeson, I suppose that you have explained 
to my brother the matter on which you require my 
advice ? " 



zoo MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

"No, I haven't," said Eustace; "I thought that I 
might as well explain it to you both together ; eh ? " 

' Hum," said James ; " it is not quite regular. Accord- 
ing to the etiquette of the profession to which I have 
the honour to belong, it is not customary that matters 
should be so dealt with. It is usual that papers should 
be presented ; but that I will overlook, as the point 
appears to be pressing." 

"That's right," said Eustace. "Well, I have come 
about a will." 

" So I understood," said James ; " but what will, and 
where is it ?" 

"Well, it's a will in my favour, and it is tattooed upon 
a lady's neck." 

The twins simultaneously rose from their chairs, and 
looked at Eustace with such a ridiculous identity of 
movement and expression that he fairly burst out 
laughing. 

" I presume, Meeson, that this is not a hoax," said 
James severely. " I presume that you know too well 
what is due to learned counsel to attempt to make one 
of their body the victim of a practical joke ? " 

"Surely, Meeson," added John, "you have sufficient 
respect for the dignity of the law not to tamper with 
it in any such way as my brother has indicated ?" 

" Oh, certainly not. I assure you it is all square. 
It is a true bill, or rather a true will." 

"Proceed," said James, resuming his seat. "This is 
evidently a case of an unusual nature." 

"You are right there, old boy," said Eustace. "And 
now, just listen," and he went on to unfold his moving 
tale with much point and emphasis. 

When he had finished John looked at James rather 



SHORT ON LEGAL ETIQUETTE. 201 

helpless] v. The case was beyond him. But James was 
equal to the occasion. He had mastered that first great 
axiom which every young banister should lay to heart 
— " Never appear to be ignorant." 

" This case," he said, as though he were giving judg- 
ment, " is, doubtless, of a remarkable nature, and I 
cannot at the moment lay my hand upon any authority 

* 

bearing on the point — if, indeed, any such are to be 
found. But — I speak off-hand, and must not be held 
too closely to the obiter dictum of a viva voce opinion — 
it seems to me that, notwithstanding its peculiar idiosyn- 
crasies, and the various ' cruces ' that it presents, it will, 
upon closer examination, be found to fall within those 
general laws that govern the legal course of testamentary 
disposition. If I remember aright — I speak oft-hand — 
the Act of 1 Vic, cap. 26, specifies that a will shall 
be in writing, and tattooing may fairly be defined as a 
rude variety of writing. It is, I admit, usual that writing 
should be done on paper or parchment, but I have no 
doubt that the young lady's skin, if carefully removed 
and dried, would make excellent parchment. At present, 
therefore, it is parchment in its unprepared stage, and 
perfectly available for writing purposes. 

"To continue. It appears — I am taking Mr. Meeson's 
statement as being perfectly accurate — that the will was 
properly and duly executed by the testator, or rather 
by the person who tattooed in his presence and at his 
command : a form of signature which is very well covered 
by the section of the Act of I Vic, cap. 26. It seems, 
too, that the witnesses attested in the presence of each 
other and of the testator. It is true that there was no 
attestation clause; but the supposed necessity for an 
attestation clause is one of those fallacies of the lay 



20 2 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

mind which, perhaps, cluster more frequently and with 
a greater persistence round questions connected with 
testamentary disposition than those of any other branch 
of the law. Therefore, we must take the will to have 
been properly executed in accordance with the spirit of 
the statute. 

" And now we come to what at present strikes me as 
the crux. The will is undated. Does that invalidate it ? 
1 answer with confidence, no. And mark : evidence — 
that of Lady Holmhurst — can be produced that this will 
did not exist upon Miss Augusta Smithers previous to 
Dec. 19, on which day the Kangaroo sank ; and evidence 
can also be produced — that of Mrs. Thomas — that it 
did exist on Christmas Day, when Miss Smithers was 
rescued. It is, therefore, clear that it must have got 
upon her between Dec. 19. and Dec. 25." 

" Quite so, old fellow," said Eustace, much impressed at 
this coruscation of legal lore. " Evidently you are the 
man to tackle the case. But, I say, what is to be done 
next ? You see, I'm afraid it is too late. Probate has 
issued, whatever that may mean." 

" Probate has issued ! " echoed the great James, struggling 
with his rising contempt; "and is the law so helpless 
that probate which has been allowed to issue under an 
erroneous apprehension of the facts cannot be recalled ? 
Most certainly not ! So soon as the preliminary formalities 
are concluded, a writ must be issued to revoke the probate, 
and claiming that the Court should pronounce in favour of 
the later will ; or, stay, there is no executor — there is no 
executor ! — a very important point — claiming a grant of 
letters of administration with the will annexed : I think 
that will be the better course." 

" But how can you annex Miss Smithers to a ' grant of 



SHORT ON LEGAL ETIQUETTE 203 

letters of administration,' whatever that may mean?" said 
Eustace feeblv. 

" That reminds me," said James, disregarding the 
question and addressing his brother, " you must at once 
file Miss Smithers in the Registry, and see to the pre- 
paration of the usual affidavit of scripts." 

"Certainly, certainly," said John, as though this were 
the most simple business in the world. 

" What ? " gasped Eustace, as a vision of Augusta 
impaled upon an enormous bill-guard rose before his eyes. 
" You can't file a lady ; it's impossible ! " 

" Impossible or not, it must be done before any further 
steps are taken. Let me see ; I believe that Dr. Probate 
is the sitting Registrar at Somerset House this sittings. 
It would be well if you made an appointment for to- 
morrow." 

" Yes," said John. 

"Well," went on James, "I think that is all for the 
present. You will, of course, let me have the instruc- 
tions and other papers with all possible speed. I sup- 
pose that other counsel besides myself will be ultimately 
retained ? " 

" Oh ! that reminds me," said Eustace : " about money, 
you know. I don't quite see how I am going to pay 
for all this game. I have got about fifty pounds spare 
cash in the world, and that's all ; and I know enough 
to be aware that fifty pounds do not go far in a law- 
suit." 

Blankly James looked at John, and John at James. 
This was very trying. 

" Fifty pounds will go a good way in out-of-pocket 
fees," suggested James, at length, rubbing his bald head 
with his handkerchief. 



204 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

" Possibly," answered John pettishly ; " but how about 
the remuneration of the plaintiff's legal advisers ? Can't 
you" — addressing Eustace — "manage to get the money 
from some one ? " 

" Well," said Eustace, " there's Lady Holmhurst. 
Perhaps if I offered to share the spoil with her, if there 
was any- " 

" Dear me, no," said John ; " that would be ' main- 
tenance.' " 

" Certainly not," chimed in James, holding up his 
hands in dismay. " Most clearly it would be ' champerty ' ; 
and did it come to the knowledge of the Court, nobody 
can say what might not happen." 

" Indeed," answered Eustace, with a sigh, " I don't 
quite know what you mean, but I seem to have said 
something very wrong. The odds on a handicap are 
child's play to understand beside this law," he added 
sadly. 

' It is obvious, James," said John, " that, putting 
aside other matters, this would prove, independent of 
pecuniary reward, a most interesting case for you to 
conduct." 

"That is so, John," replied James; "but, as you 
must be well aware, the etiquette of my profession will 
not allow me to conduct a case for nothing. Upon 
that point, above all others, etiquette rules us with 
a rod of iron. The stomach of the Bar, collective 
and individual, is revolted and scandalised at the idea 
of one of its members doing anything for nothing." 

'Yes," put in Eustace, "I have always understood 
that they were regular nailers." 

" Quite so, my dear James ; quite so," said John, 
with a sweet smile. " A fee must be marked upon 



SHORT ON LEGAL ETIQUETTE 205 

the brief ol" learned counsel, and that fee must be paid 
to him, together with many other smaller fees ; for 
learned counsel is like the cigarette-boxes and new- 
fashioned weighing-machines at the stations : he does 
not work unless you drop something down him. But 
there is nothing to prevent learned counsel from return- 
ing that fee, and all the little fees. Indeed, James, you 
will see that this practice is common among the most 
eminent of your profession, when, for instance, they 
require an advertisement, or wish to pay a delicate com- 
pliment to a constituency. What do they do then ? 
They wait till they find ^500 marked upon a brief, and 
then resign their fee. Why should you not do the 
same in this case, in your own interest ? Of course, 
if we win the cause, the other side or the estate will 
the costs ; and if we lose, you will at least have 
had the advantage, the priceless advantage, of a unique 
advertisement." 

" Very well, John ; let it be so," said James, with 
magnanimity. " Your cheques for fees will be duly 
returned ; but it must be understood that they are to be 
presented." 

"Not at the bank," said John hastily. "I have 
recently had to oblige a client," he added by way of 
explanation to Eustace, " and my balance is rather 
low." 

" No," said James ; " I quite understand. I was going 
to say ' are to be presented to my clerk. 

And with this solemn farce, the conference came 
an end. 



CHAPTER XVII. 



HOW AUGUSTA WAS FILED. 




HAT very afternoon Eustace returned to Lady 

Holmhurst's house in Hanover Square, to tell 

his dear Augusta that she must attend on 
u 

the following morning to be filed in the 
Registry at Somerset House. As may be imagined, 
though willing to go any reasonable length to oblige 
her new-found lover, Augusta not unnaturally resisted 
this course violently, and was supported in her resist- 
ance by her friend Lady Holmhurst, who, however, 
presently left the room, leaving them to settle it as they 
liked. 

" I do think it is a little hard," said Augusta, with 
a stamp of her foot, " that, after all I have gone 
through, I should be taken off to have my unfortu- 
nate neck stared at by a Doctor some one or other, and 
then be shut up with a lot of musty old wills in a 
Registry." 

" Well, my dearest girl," said Eustace, " either it 
must be done or else the whole thing must be given up. 
Mr. John Short declares that it is absolutely necessary 



How AUGUSTA was FILED 207 

that the document should be placed in the custody ui" the 
officer of the Court." 

" But how am I going to live in a cupboard, or in 
an iron safe with a lot of wills ? " asked Augusta, feel- 
ing very cross indeed. 

"I don't know, I am sure," said Eustace; "Mr. John 
Short says that that is a matter which the learned 
Doctor will have to settle. His own opinion is that 
the learned Doctor — confound him ! — will order that 
you should accompany him about wherever he goes till 
the trial comes off; for, you see, in that way you would 
never be out of the custody of an officer of the Court. 
But," went on Eustace gloomily, " all I can tell him is, 
if he makes that order, and takes you about with him, he 
will have to take me too." 

"Why?" said Augusta. 

u Why ? Because I don't trust him — that's why. 
Old ? Oh yes ; I dare say he is old. And, besides, 
just think : this learned gentleman has practised for 
twenty years in the Divorce Court? Now, I ask you, 
what can you expect from a gentleman, however learned, 
who has practised for twenty years in the Divorce Court ? 
I know him," went on Eustace vindictively — " I know 
him. He will fall in love with you himself. Why, he 
would be an old duffer if he didn't." 

"Really," said Augusta, bursting out laughing, "you 
are too ridiculous, Eustace." 

" I don't know about being ridiculous, Augusta ; but 
if you think I am going to let you be marched about 
by that learned Doctor without my being there to look 
after you, you are mistaken. Why, of course he would fall 
in love with you, or some of his clerks would ; nobody 
could be near you for a couple of days without doing so." 



2o8 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

"Do you think so?" said Augusta, looking at him 
very sweetly. 

" Yes, I do," he answered ; and thus the conversation 
came to an end, and was not resumed till dinner-time. 

On the following morning at eleven o'clock, Eustace, 
who had managed to get a few days' leave from his 
employers, arrived with Mr. John Short to take Augusta 
and Lady Holmhurst — who was going to chaperon her 
— to Somerset House, whither, notwithstanding her 
objections of the previous day, she had at last consented 
to go. 

Mr. Short was introduced, and much impressed both 
the ladies by the extraordinary air of learning and com- 
mand which was stamped upon his countenance. He 
wanted to inspect the will at once ; but Augusta struck 
at this, saying that it would be quite enough to have 
her neck stared at once that day. With a sigh and 
a shake of the head at her unreasonableness, Mr. 
John Short submitted ; and then the carriage came round, 
and they were all driven off to Somerset House. Pre- 
sently they were there, and after threading innumerable 
chilly passages, reached a dismal room with an almanack, 
a dirty deal table, and a few chairs in it, wherein were 
congregated several solicitors' clerks, waiting their turn 
to appear before the Registrar. Here they waited for 
half-an-hour or more, to Augusta's considerable discom- 
fort, for she soon found that she was an object of 
curiosity and closest attention to the solicitors' clerks, 
who never took their eyes off her. Presently she dis- 
covered the reason, for having remarkably quick ears, 
she overheard one of the clerks, a callow little man 
with yellow hair and an enormous diamond pin, whose 
<'ippearance somehow reminded her of a new-born chicken, 



HOW AUGUSTA WAS FILED. 209 

tell another, who was evidently of the Jewish faith, 
that she (Augusta) was the respondent in the famous 
divorce case of Jones v. Jones, and was going to appear 
before the Registrar to submit herself to cross-examina- 
tion in some matter connected with a grant of alimony. 
Now, as all London was talking about the alleged 
iniquities of the Mrs. Jones in question, whose moral 
turpitude was only equalled by her beauty, Augusta did 
not feel best pleased, although she perceived that she 
instantly became an object of heartfelt admiration to 
the clerks. 

Presently, however, somebody poked his head through 
the door, which he opened just wide enough to admit it, 
and bawling out — 

" Short, re Meeson," vanished as abruptly as he had 
come. 

" Now, Lady Holmhurst, if you please," said Mr. John 
Short, " allow me to show the way, if you will kindly 
follow with the will — this way, please." 

In another minute, the unfortunate "will" found her- 
self in a large and lofty room, at the top of which, with 
his back to the light, sat a most agreeable-looking middle- 
aged gentleman, who, as they advanced, rose with a 
politeness that one does not generally expect from 
officials on a fixed salary, and bowing, asked them to 
be seated. 

" Well, what can I do for you ? Mr. — ah ! Mr." — 
and he put on his eye-glasses and referred to his notes 
— " Mr. Short — you wish to file a will, I understand ; and 
there are peculiar circumstances of some sort in the case?" 

"Yes, sir; there are," said Mr. John Short, with much 
meaning. "The will to be filed in the Registry is the 
last true will of Jonathan Meeson, of Pompadour Hall, 



2 to MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

in the county of Warwick, and the property concerned 
amounts to about two millions. Upon last motion day, 
the death of Jonathan Meeson, who was supposed to 
have sunk in the Kangaroo, was allowed to be presumed, 
and probate has been taken out. As a matter of fact, 
however, the said Jonathan Meeson perished in Kerguelen 
Land some days after the shipwreck, and before he 
died he duly executed a fresh will in favour of his 
nephew, Eustace H. Meeson, the gentleman before you. 
Miss Augusta Smithers " 

"What," said the learned Registrar, "is this Miss 
Smithers, whom we have been reading so much about 
lately — the Kerguelen Land heroine ? " 

"Yes; I am Miss Smithers," she said, with a little 
blush; "and this is Lady Holmhurst, whose husband — " 
and she checked herself. 

" It gives me much pleasure to make your acquaintance, 
Miss Smithers," said the learned Doctor, courteously 
shaking hands, and bowing to Lady Holmhurst — proceed- 
ings which Eustace watched with the jaundiced eye of 
suspicion. " He's beginning already," said that ardent 
lover to himself. " I knew how it would be. Trust 
my Gus into his custody ? — never ! I had rather be 
committed for contempt." 

" The best thing that I can do, sir," went on John 
Short impatiently, for, to his severe eye, these interrup- 
tions were not seemly, " will be to at once offer you 
inspection of the document, which, I may state, is of an 
unusual character," and he looked at Augusta, who, poor 
girl, coloured to the eyes. 

" Quite so, quite so," said the learned Registrar. 
"Well, has Miss Smithers got the will? Perhaps she 
will produce it." 



HOW AUGUSTA WAS FILED. -it 

"Miss Smithers is the will," said Mr. John Short. 

"Oh — I am afraid that I do not quite understand " 



"To be more precise, sir, the will is tattooed on Miss 
Smithers." 

" What ? " almost shouted the learned Doctor, literally 
bounding from his chair. 

" The will is tattooed upon Miss Smithers," continued 
Mr. John Short, in a perfectly unmoved tone; "and it is 
now my duty to offer you inspection of the document, and 
to take your instructions as to how you propose to file 
it in the Registry " 

" Inspection of the document — inspection of the docu- 
ment ! " gasped the astonished Doctor ; " how am I to 
inspect the document ? " 

" I must leave that to you, sir," said Mr. John Short, 
regarding the learned Registrar's shrinking form with con- 
tempt not unmixed with pity. "The will is on the lady's 
back, and I, on behalf of the plaintiff, mean to get a grant 
with the document annexed." 

Lady Holmhurst began to laugh ; and as for the 
learned Doctor, anything more absurd than he looked, 
entrenched as he was behind his office chair, with per- 
plexity written on his face, it would be impossible to 
imagine. 

" Well," he said at length, " I suppose that I must 
come to a decision. It is a painful matter, very, to a 
person of modest temperament. However, I cannot shrink 
from my duty, and must face it. Therefore," he went on, 
with an air of judicial sternness, " therefore, Miss Smithers, 
I must trouble you to show me this alleged will. There 
is a cupboard there," and he pointed to the corner of the 
room, " where you can make — 'um — make the necessary 
preparations." 



2i2 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

" Oh, it isn't quite so bad as that," said Augusta with 
a sigh, as she began to remove her jacket. 

" Dear me ! " he said, observing her movement with 
alarm. " I suppose she is hardened," he continued to 
himself; "but I dare say that one gets used to this sort 
of thing upon desert islands." 

Meanwhile poor Augusta had got her jacket off. She 
was dressed in an evening dress, and had a white silk 
scarf over her shoulders ; this she removed. 

" Oh," he said, " I see — in evening dress. Well, of 
course, that is quite a different matter. And so that is 
the will — well, I have had some experience, but I never 
saw or heard of anything like it before. Signed and 
attested, but not dated. Ah! unless," he added, "the 
date is lower down." 

" No," said Augusta, " there is no date ; I could not 
bear any more tattooing. It was all done at one sitting, 
and I grew faint." 

" I don't wonder at it, I am sure. I think it is the 
bravest thing I ever heard of," and he bowed with much 
grace. 

" Ah," muttered Eustace, " he's beginning to pay com- 
pliments now, insidious old hypocrite." 

" Well," went on the innocent and eminently respectable 
object of his suspicions, " of course the absence of a date 
does not invalidate a will — it is matter for proof, that is 
all. But there, I am not in a position to give any opinion 
about the case ; it is quite beyond me, and besides, that 
is not my business. But now, Miss Smithers, as you have 
once put yourself in the custody of the Registry in the 
capacity of a will, might I ask if you have any suggestion 
to make as to how you are to be dealt with. Obviously, 
you cannot be locked up with the other wills, and equally 



HOW AUGUSTA WAS FILED. 213 

obviously it is against the rules to allow a will to go out of 
the custody of the Court, unless by especial permission of 
the Court. Also it is clear that I cannot put any restraint 
upon the liberty of the subject, and order you to remain 
with me. Indeed, I doubt if it would be possible to do 
so by any means short of an Act of Parliament. Under 
these circumstances I am, I confess, a little confused as 
to what course should be taken with reference to this 
important alleged will." 

"What T have to suggest, sir," said Mr. Short, "is that 
a certified copy of the will should be filed, and that there 
should be a special paragraph inserted in the affidavit of 
scripts detailing the circumstances." 

" Ah," said the learned Doctor, polishing his eye-glasses, 
" you have given me an idea. With Miss Smithers' con- 
sent we will file something better than a certified copy of 
the will — we will file a photographic copy. The incon- 
venience to Miss Smithers will be trifling, and it may 
prevent questions being raised hereafter." 

" Have you any objection to that, my dear ? " asked 
Lady Holmhurst. 

" Oh, no, I suppose not," said Augusta mournfully ; " I 
seem to be public property now." 

" Very well, then ; excuse me for a moment," said the 
learned Doctor. "There is a photographer close by whom 
I have had occasion to employ officially. I will write and 
see if he can come round." 

In a few minutes an answer came back from the 
photographer to the effect that he would be happy to 
wait upon Doctor Probate at three o'clock, up to which 
hour he was engaged. 

"Well," said the Doctor, "it is clear that I cannot let 
Miss Smithers out of the custody of the Court till the 



2i 4 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

photograph is taken. Let me see, I think that yours was 
my last appointment this morning. Now, what do you 
say to the idea of something to eat ? We are not five 
minutes' drive from Simpson's, and I shall feel delighted 
if you will make a pleasure of a necessity." 

Lady Holmhurst, who was getting very hungry, said 
that she should be most pleased ; and, accordingly, they 
all — with the exception of Mr. John Short, who departed 
about some business, saying that he would return at 
three o'clock — drove off in Lady Holmhurst's carriage 
to the restaurant, where this delightful specimen of the 
genus Registrar stood them a most sumptuous champagne 
lunch, and made himself so agreeable that both the ladies 
nearly fell in love with him, and even Eustace was 
constrained to admit to himself that good things can 
come out of the Divorce Court. Finally, the Doctor 
wound up the proceedings, which were of a most lively 
order, and included an account of Augusta's adventures, 
with a toast. 

" I hear from Lady Holmhurst," he said, " that you 
two young people are going to get married. Now, matri- 
mony is, according to my somewhat extended experience, 
an undertaking of a venturesome order, though cases occa- 
sionally come under one's observation where the results 
have proved to be in every way satisfactory ; and I 
must say that, if I may form an opinion from the facts 
as they are before me, I never knew an engagement 
entered into under more promising or more romantic 
auspices. Here the young gentleman quarrels with his 
uncle in taking the part of the young lady, and thereby 
is disinherited of vast wealth. Then the young lady, 
under the most terrible circumstances, takes steps of a 
nature that not one woman in five hundred would have 



How AUGUSTA WAS 1 [LED 215 

done to restore to him that wealth. Whether or no 
those steps will ultimately prove successful I do not 
know, and if I did, like Herodotus, I should prefer not 
to say ; but, whether the wealth comes or goes, it is 
impossible but that a sense of mutual confidence and 
a mutual respect and admiration — that is, if a more quiet 
thing, certainly, also a more enduring thing, than mere 
' love '—. rmust and will result from them. Mr. Meeson, 
you are indeed a fortunate man. In Miss Smithers 
you are going to marry beauty, courage, and genius, 
and if you will allow an oldish man of some experience 
to drop the official and give you a word of advice, it 
is this : always try to deserve your good fortune, and 
r< member that a man who, in his youth, finds such a 
woman, and is enabled by circumstances to marry her, 
is indeed 

Smiled on by Joy, and cherished of the Gods. 

And now I will end my sermon, and wish you both health 
and happiness and fulness of days," and he drank off 
his glass of champagne, and looked so pleasant and 
kindly that Augusta longed to kiss him on the spot, and 
as for Eustace, he shook hands with him warmly, and then 
and there a friendship began between the two which 
endures till now. 

And then they all went back to the office, and there 
was the photographer waiting with all his apparatus, and 
astonished enough he was when he found out what the job 
was that he had to do. However, the task proved an easy 
one enough, as the light of the room was suitable, and the 
dark lines of cuttle ink upon Augusta's neck would, the 
man said, come out perfectly in the photograph. So he 
took two or three shots at her back and then departed, 



2i6 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

saying that he would bring a life-sized reproduction to 
be filed in the Registry in a couple of days. 

And after that the learned Registrar also shook hands 
with them, and said that he need detain them no longer, 
as he now felt justified in allowing Augusta out of his 
custody. 

And so they went, glad to have got over the first step 
so pleasantly. 




CHAPTER XVIII. 



AC GUST A FLIES. 




F course, Augusta's story, so far as it was 
publicly known, had created no small stir, 
which was considerably emphasised when 
pictures of her appeared in the illustrated 
papers, and it was discovered that she was young and 
charming. But the excitement, great as it was, was as 
nothing compared to that which arose when the first 
whispers of the tale of the will, which was tattooed upon 
her neck, began to get about. Endless paragraphs and 
stories about this will appeared in the papers, but of course 
she took no notice of these. 

On the fourth day after she had been photographed 
for the purposes of the Registry, however, things came to 
a climax. It so happened that on that morning Lady 
Holmhurst asked Augusta to go to a certain shop in 
Regent Street to get some lace which she required to 
trim her widow's dresses, and accordingly at about halt- 
past twelve o'clock she started, accompanied by the lady's 
maid. As soon as they shut the front door of the house 
in Hanover Square she noticed two or three doubtful- 



2.8 MR. MEESONS WILL. 

looking men who were loitering about, and who instantly 
followed them, staring at her with all their eyes. She 
made her way along, however, without taking any notice 
until she got to Regent Street, by which time there were 
quite a score of people walking after her whispering 
excitedly to each other. In Regent Street itself, the first 
thing that she saw was a man selling photographs. Evi- 
dently he was doing a roaring trade, for a considerable 
crowd had gathered round him, and he was shouting 
something which she could not catch. Presently a gentle- 
man, who had bought one of the photographs, stopped 
just in front of her to look at it, and as he was short 
and Augusta was tall, she could see over his shoulder, 
and the next second started back with an indignant 
exclamation. No wonder, for the photograph was one 
of herself taken in the low dress in the Registry. There 
could be no mistake about it — there was the picture of the 
tattooed will. 

Nor did her troubles end there, for at that moment a 
man came bawling down the street carrying a number of 
the first edition of an evening paper — 

" Description and picture of the lovely 'eroine of the 
Cockatoo" he yelled, " with the will tattooed upon 'er ! 
Taken from the original photograph ! Facsimile picture ! " 

"Oh, dear me," said Augusta to the maid, "this is 
really too bad. Let us go home." 

But meanwhile the crowd at her back had gathered 
and increased to an extraordinary extent, and was slowly 
enclosing her in a circle. The fact was, that the man 
who had followed her from Hanover Square had identified 
her, and told the good news to the others who joined 
him. 

" That's her," said one man. 



AUGUSTA FLIES. aig 

■' Who? " said another. 

" Why, the Miss Smithers as escaped from the Kan- 
garoo and has the will on her, in course." 

There was a howl of exultation from the mob, and in 
another second the wretched Augusta was pressed right 
up against a lamp-post, together with the lady's-maid, 
who began to scream with fright, while a crowd of 
eager -faces, mostly unwashed, were pushed almost into 
her own. Indeed, so fierce was the crowd in its attempt 
to get a glimpse of the latest curiosity, that she began to 
think she would be thrown down and trampled under 
foot, when timely relief arrived in the shape of two police- 
men and a gentleman volunteer, who managed to rescue 
her and get them into a hansom cab, which started for 
Hanover Square, pursued by a shouting mob of non- 
descript individuals. 

Now, Augusta was a woman of good nerve and resolu- 
tion ; but this sort of thing was too trying, and, accord- 
ingly, accompanied by Lady Holmhurst, she went, that 
very day, to some rooms in a little riverside hotel on 
the Thames. 

When Eustace, walking down the Strand that afternoon, 
found every photograph-shop full of accurate pictures of 
the shoulders of his beloved, he was simply furious ; and, 
rushing to the photographer who had taken the picture in 
the Registry, threatened him with proceedings of every 
sort and kind. The man admitted outright that he had 
put the photographs upon the market, saying that he had 
never stipulated not to do so, and that he could not afford 
to throw away five or six hundred pounds when a chance 
of making them came in his way. 

Thereon Eustace departed, still vowing vengeance, to 
consult the legal twins. As a result of this, within a 



220 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

week Mr. Jarr.es Short made a motion for an injunction 
against the photographer, restraining the sale of the photo- 
graphs in question, on the ground that such sale, being 
of copies of a document vital to a cause now pending in 
the Court, those copies having been obtained through 
the instrumentality of an officer of the Court, Dr. Probate, 
the sale thereof amounted to a contempt, inasmuch as, if 
for no other reason, the photographer who obtained them 
became technically, and for that purpose only, an officer 
of the Court, and had, therefore, no right to part with 
them, or any reproductions of them, without the leave of 
the Court. It will be remembered that this motion gave 
rise to some very delicate questions connected with the 
powers of the Court in such a matter, and also incidentally 
with the law of photographic copyright. It is also memor- 
able for the unanimous and luminous judgment finally 
delivered by the Lord's Justices of Appeal, whereby the 
sale of the photographs was stopped, and the photographer 
was held to have been guilty of a technical contempt. 
That judgment contained perhaps the most searching 
and learned definition of constructive contempt that has 
yet been formulated ; but for the text of this I must refer 
the student to the law reports, because, as it took two 
hours to deliver, I fear that it would, notwithstanding 
its many beauties, be thought too long for the purpose of 
this history. Unfortunately, however, it did not greatly 
benefit Augusta, the victim of the unlawful dissemination of 
photographs inasmuch as the judgment was not delivered 
till a week after the great case of Meeson v. Addison 
and Another had been settled. 

About eight days after Augusta's adventure in Regent 
Street, a motion was made in the Court of Probate on 
behalf of the defendants, Messrs. Addison and Roscoe, 



AUGUSTA FLIES. 221 

who were the executors and principal beneficiaries under 
the former will of November 18S5, demanding that tin- 
Court should order the plaintiff to file a further and better 
affidavit of scripts, with the original will set up by him 
attached, the object, of course, being to compel an inspec- 
tion of the document. This motion, which first brought 
the whole case under the notice of the public, was 
strenuously resisted by Mr. James Short, and resulted 
in the matter being referred to the learned Registrar for 
his report. On the next motion day this report was 
presented, and, on its appearing from it that the photo- 
graphy had taken place in his presence, and accurately 
represented the tattoo marks on the lady, the Court 
declined to harass the " will " by ordering her to submit 
to any further inspection before the trial. It was on 
this occasion that it transpired that the " will " was 
engaged to be married to the plaintiff, a fact at which 
the Court metaphorically opened its eyes. After this the 
defendants obtained leave to amend their answer to the 
plaintiff's statement of claim. At first they had only 
pleaded that the testator had not duly executed the alleged 
will in accordance with the provisions of 1 Vic, cap. 26, 
sec. 2, and that he did not know and approve the contents 
thereof. But now they added a plea to the effect that 
the said alleged will was obtained by the undue influence 
of Augusta Smithers, or, as one of the learned counsel 
for the defendants put it much more clearly at the trial, 
"that the will had herself procured the will, by an undue 
projection of her own will upon the unwilling mind of 
the testator." 

And so the time went on. As often as he could, 
Eustace got away from London, and went down to the 
little riverside hotel, and was as happy as a man can be 



222 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

who has a tremendous lawsuit hanging over him. The 
law, no doubt, is an admirable institution, out of which 
a large number of people make a living, and a proportion 
of benefit accrues to the community at large. But woe 
unto those who form the subject-matter of its operations. 
For instance, the Court of Chancery is an excellent insti- 
tution in theory, and looks after the affairs of minors 
upon the purest principles. But how many of its wards 
after, and as a result of one of its well-intentioned inter- 
ferences, have to struggle for the rest of their lives under 
a load of debt raised to pay the crushing costs ! To 
employ the Court of Chancery to look after wards is 
something as though one set a tame elephant to pick up 
pins. No doubt he could pick them up, but it would 
cost something to feed him. But of course these are re- 
volutionary remarks, which one cannot expect everybody 
to agree with, least of all the conveyancing counsel of the 
Court. 

However this may be, certainly his impending lawsuit 
proved a fly in Eustace's honey. Never a day passed 
but some fresh worry arose. James and John, the legal 
twins, fought like heroes, and held their own although 
their experience was so small — as men of talent almost 
invariably do when they are put to it. But it was 
difficult for Eustace to keep them supplied even with 
sufficient money for out-of-pocket expenses ; and, of 
course, as was natural in a case where such enormous 
sums were at stake, and in which the defendants were 
already men of vast wealth, they found the flower of the 
entire talent and weight of the Bar arrayed against them. 
Naturally Eustace felt, and so did Mr. James Short — 
who, notwithstanding his pomposity and the technicality 
of his talk, was both a clever and a sensible man — that 



AUGUSTA FLIES. 

more counsel, men of weight and experience, ought to 
be briefed ; but there were absolutely no funds for this 
purpose, nor was anybody likely to advance any upon 
the security of a will tattooed upon a young lady. This 
was awkward, because success in law proceedings so very 
often leans towards the weightiest purse, and Judges, 
however impartial, being but men after all, are more 
apt to listen to an argument which is urged upon their 
attention by an Attorney-General than on one advanced 
by an unknown junior. 

However, there the fact was, and they had to make 
the best of it ; and a point in their favour was that the 
case, although of a most remarkable nature, was com- 
paratively simple, and did not involve any great mass of 
documentary evidence. 





CHAPTER XIX. 

MEESON v. ADDISON AND ANOTHER. 

|HE most wearisome times go by at last, if only 
one lives to see the end of them ; and so it 
came to pass that at length on one fine morn- 
ing about a quarter to ten of the Law Courts' 
clock, that projects its ghastly hideousness upon unoffend- 
ing Fleet Street, Augusta, accompanied by Eustace, Lady 
Holmhurst, and Mrs. Thomas, the wife of Captain Thomas, 
who had come up from visiting her relatives in the eastern 
counties in order to give evidence, found herself standing 
in the big entrance to the new Law Courts, feeling as 
though she would give five years of her life to be any- 
where else. 

"This way, my dear," said Eustace; "Mr. John Short 
said that he would meet us by the statue in the hall." 
Accordingly they passed into the archway by the oak stand 
where the cause-lists are displayed. Augusta glanced at 
them as she went, and the first thing that her eyes fell 
on was "Probate and Divorce Division, Court I., at 10.30, 
Meeson v. Addison and Another," and the sight made her 
feel ill. In another moment they had passed a policeman 



MEESON ;-. ADDISON AND ANOTHER. 225 

of gigantic size, " monstrum horrcndum, inform e, ingcns," 
who watches and wards the folding-doors through which 
so much human learning, wretchedness, and worry pass 
day by day, and were standing in the long, but narrow 
and ill-proportioned hall which appears to have been the 
best thing that the architectural talent of the nineteenth 
century was capable of producing. 

To the right of the door on entering, is a statue of the 
architect of a pile of which England has certainly no cause 
to feel proud, and here, a black bag full of papers in his 
hand, stood Mr. John Short, wearing that air of excite- 
ment upon his countenance which is so commonly to be 
seen in the law courts. 

" Here you are," he said, " I was beginning to be afraid 
that you would be late. We arc first on the list, you 
see ; the Judge fixed it specially to suit the convenience 
of the Attorney-General. He's on the other side, you 
know," he added, with a sigh. " I'm sure I don't know 
how poor James will get on. There are more than twenty 
counsel against him, for all the legatees under the former 
will are represented. At any rate, he is well up in his 
facts, and there does not seem to me to be very much law 
in the case." 

inwhile, they had been walking up the long hall 
till they came to a poky little staircase which had just 
been dug out in the wall, the necessity for a staircase at 
that end of the hall, whereby the court floor could be 
reached, having to all appearance originally escaped the 
attention of the architect. On getting to the top of the 
staircase they turned to the left and then to the left again. 
If they had been doubtful as to which road they should 
take it would have been speedily decided by the long 
string of wigs which was streaming away in the direction 



226 MR. MEESONS WILL. 

of Divorce Court No. I. Thicker and thicker grew the 
wigs ; it was obvious that the cause celebre of Meeson v. 
Addison and Another would not want for hearers. Indeed, 
Augusta and her friends soon realised the intensity of 
the public interest in a way that was as impressive as 
it was disagreeable, for, just past the Admiralty Court 
the passage was entirely blocked by an enormous mass 
of barristers ; there might have been five hundred or 
more of them. There they were, choked up together in 
their white-wigged ranks, waiting for the door of the 
court to be opened. At present it was guarded by six or 
eight attendants, who, with the help of a wooden barrier, 
attempted to keep the surging multitude at bay — while 
those behind cried, " Forward ! " and those in front cried 
" Back ! " 

" How on earth are we going to get through ? " asked 
Augusta, and at that moment Mr. John Short caught 
hold of an attendant who was struggling about in the 
skirts of the crowd like a fly in a cup of tea, and asked 
him the same question, explaining that their presence 
was necessary to the show. 

" I'm bothered if I know, sir ; you can't come this 
way. I suppose I must let you through by the under- 
ground passage from the other court. Why," he went 
on, as he led the way to the Admiralty Court, " hang 
me if I don't believe that we shall all be crushed to 
death by them there barristers. It would take a regi- 
ment of cavalry to keep them back. And they are a 
'ungry lot, they are ; and they ain't no work to do, and 
that's why they comes kicking and tearing and worriting 
just to see a bit of painting on a young lady's shoulders." 

By this time they had passed through the Admiralty 
Court, which was not sitting, and been conducted clown 



MEESON v. ADDISON AND ANOTHER. 227 

a sort of well, that terminated in the space occupied 
by the Judge's clerks and other officers of the Court. In 
another minute they found themselves emerging on a 
similar space in the other court. 

Before taking the seat that was pointed out to her 
and the other witnesses in the well of the court, immedi- 
ately below those reserved for Queen's Counsel, Augusta 
glanced round. The body of the court was still quite 
empty, for the seething mob outside had not yet burst 
in, though their repeated shouts of " Open the door ! " 
could be plainly heard. But the jury-box was full, not 
with a jury, for the case was to be tried before the Court 
itself, but of various distinguished individuals, including 
several ladies, who had obtained orders. The little 
gallery above was also crowded with smart-looking people. 
As for the seats devoted to counsel in the cause, they 
were crammed to overflowing with the representatives 
of the various defendants — so crammed, indeed, that 
the wretched James Short, sole counsel for the plaintiff, 
had to establish himself and his papers in the centre of 
the third bench sometimes used by solicitors. 

"Heavens!" said Eustace to Augusta, counting the 
heads ; " there are twenty-three counsel against us. 
What will that unfortunate James do against so many?" 

" I don't know, I'm sure," said Augusta, with a sigh. 
"It doesn't seem quite fair, does it? But then, you see, 
there was no money." 

Just then John Short came up. He had been to speak 
to his brother. Augusta being a novelist, and therefore 
a professional student of human physiognomy, was en- 
gaged in studying the legal types before her, which she 
found resolved themselves into two classes — the sharp 
k< en-faced class, and the solid, heavy-jawed class. 



22 8 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

" Who on earth arc they all ? " she asked. 

" Oh/' he said, " that's the Attorney-General. He 
appears with Fiddlestick, Q.C., Pearl, and Bean for the 
defendant Addison. Next to him is the Solicitor-General, 
who, with Playford, Q.C., Middlestone, Blowhard, and 
Ross, is for the other defendant, Roscoe. Next to him 
is Turphy, Q.C, with the spectacles on ; he is supposed 
to have a great effect on a jury. I don't know the name 
of his junior, but he looks as though he were going to 
eat one — doesn't he ? He is for one of the legatees. 
That man behind is Stickon ; he is for one of the legatees 
also. I suppose that he finds probate and divorce an 
interesting subject, because he is always writing books 
about them. Next to him is Howies, who, my brother 
says, is the best comic actor in the court. The short 
gentleman in the middle is Telly ; he reports for the 
Times. You see, as this is an important case, he has got 
somebody to help him to take it — that long man with 
a big wig. He, by-the-bye, writes novels, like you do, 
only not half such good ones — romances, you know, mere 
romances ! and mostly plagiarised from the Book of Genesis 
and the Egyptian Novelists of the Ancient Empire ; at least 

so I'm told in minor literary circles. The next " but 

at this moment Mr. John Short was interrupted by the 
approach of a rather good-looking man, who wore an 
eye-glass continually fixed in his right eye. He was 
Mr. News, of the great firm News and News, who were 
conducting the case on behalf of the defendants. 

" Mr. Short, I believe ? " said Mr. News, contemplating 
his opponent's youthful form with pity, not unmixed with 
compassion. 

"Yes." 

" Urn, Mr. Short, I have been consulting with my 



MEESON v. ADDISON AND ANOTHER. 229 

clients and — urn, the Attorney and Solicitor-General and 
Mr. Fiddlestick, and \vc are quite willing to admit that 
there are circumstances of doubt in this case which would 
justify us in making an offer of settlement." 

" Before 1 can enter into that, Mr. News," said John, 
with great dignity, " I must request the presence of my 
counsel." 

" OH, certainly," said Mr. News, and accordingly James 
was summoned from his elevated perch, where he was 
once more going through his notes and the heads of his 
opening speech, although he already knew his brief — 
which, to do it justice, had been prepared with extra- 
ordinary care and elaboration — almost by heart, and next 
moment, for the first time in his life, found himself in 
consultation with an Attorney and a Solicitor-General. 

" Look here, Short," said the first of these great men, 
addressing James as though he had known him intimately 
for years, though, as a matter of fact, he had only that 
moment ascertained his name from Mr. Fiddlestick, who 
was himself obliged to refer to Bean before he could be 
sure of it — " look here, Short : don't you think that we can 
settle this business ? You've got a strongish case ; but there 
are some ugly things against you, as no doubt you know." 

" I don't quite admit that," said James. 

"Of course — of course," said Mr. Attorney; "but still, 
in my judgment, if you will not be offended at my 
expressing it, you are not quite on firm ground. Sup- 
posing, for instance, that your young lady is not allowed 
to give evidence : " 

"I think," said a stout gentleman behind, who wore 
upon his countenance the very sweetest and most infantile 
smile that Eustace had ever seen ; breaking in rather 
hastily, as though he was afraid that his learned leader 



230 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

was showing too much of his hand, " I think that the 
case is one that, looked at from either point of view, will 
bear settlement better than fighting — eh, Fiddlestick ? 
But then, I'm a man of peace," and again he smiled most 
seductively at James. 

" What are your terms ? " asked James. 

The eminent counsel on the front bench turned round 
and stuck their wigs together like a lot of white-headed 
crows over a bone, and the slightly less eminent but still 
highly distinguished juniors on the second bench craned 
forward to listen. 

" They are going to settle it," Eustace heard the 
barrister who was reporting for the Times say to his 
assistant. 

"They always do settle every case of public interest," 
grunted the long man in answer ; " we shan't see the will 
now. Well, I shall get an introduction to Miss Smithers, 
and ask her to show it to me. I take a great interest 
in tattooing." 

Meanwhile, Fiddlestick, Q.C., had been writing some- 
thing on a strip of paper and handed it to his leader, 
the Attorney-General (who, Mr. James Short saw with 
respectful admiration, had 500 guineas marked upon his 
brief). He nodded carelessly, and passed it on to his 
junior, who gave it in turn to the Solicitor-General and 
Playford, Q.C. When it had gone the rounds, Mr. News 
took it and showed it to his two privileged clients, 
Messrs. Addison and Roscoe. Addison was a choleric- 
looking, fat-faced man. Roscoe was sallow, and had 
a thin, straggly black beard. When they looked at it, 
Addison groaned fiercely as a wounded bull and Roscoe 
sighed, and that sigh and groan told Augusta — who, 
woman-like, had all her wits about her, and was watching 



Ml ESON v. ADDISON AND ANOTHER. 231 

every act of the drama — more than they were meant to d<>. 
They told her that these gentlemen were doing something 
that they did not like, and doing it because they evidently 
believed that they had no other course open to them. 
Then Mr. New- gave the paper to Mr. John Short, who 
glanced at it and handed it on to his brother, and 
Eustace read it over his shoulder. It was very short, 
and rah thus : — 

" Terms offered : Half the property, and defendants pay 
all costs." 

" Well, Short," said Eustace, " what do you say ? — 
shall we take it ? " 

James removed his wig, and thoughtfully rubbed his 
bald head. " It is a very difficult position to be put 
in," he said. " Of course, a million is a large sum of 
money ; but there are two at stake. My own view is 
that we had better fight the case out ; though, of course, 
this is a certainty, and the result of the case is not." 

"I am inclined to settle," said Eustace; "not because of 
the case, for I believe in it, but because of Augusta — of 
Miss Smithers : you see she will have to show the tattooing 
again, and that sort of thing is very unpleasant for a lady." 

" Oh, as to that," said James loftily, " at present she 
must remember that she is not a lady, but a legal docu- 
ment. However, let us ask her." 

"Now, Augusta, what shall we do?" said Eustace, 
when he had explained the offer; "you see, if we take 
the offer you will be spared a very disagreeable time. 
You must make up your mind quickly, for the Judge will 
be here in a minute." 

" Oh, never mind me," said Augusta hurriedly ; " I 
am used to disagreeables. No, I shall fight. I tell 
you they are afraid of you. I can sec it in the face of 



232 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 



that horrid Mr. Addison. Just now he positively glared 
at me and ground his teeth, and he would not do so if 
he thought that he was going to win. No, dear ; I shall 
fight it out now." 

"Very well," said Eustace, and he took a pencil and 
wrote " Declined with thanks " at the foot of the offer. 

Just at that moment there came a dull roar from the 
passage beyond. The doors of the court were being 
opened. Another second, and in rushed and struggled 
a hideous sea of barristers. Heavens, how they fought 
and kicked ! A maddened herd of buffaloes could not 
have behaved more desperately. On rushed the white 
wave of wigs, bearing the strong men who held the door 
before them like wreckage on a breaker. On they came, 
and in forty seconds the court was crowded to its utmost 
capacity, and still there were hundreds of white-wigged 
men behind. It was a fearful scene. 

" Good gracious ! " thought Augusta to herself, " how 
on earth do they all get a living ? " a question that many 
of them would have found it hard enough to answer. 

Then suddenly an old gentleman near her, whom she 
discovered to be the usher, jumped up and called 
" Silence ! " in commanding accents, without producing 
much effect, however, on the palpitating mass of humanity 
in front. Then in came the officers of the Court; and 
a moment afterwards everybody rose as the Judge entered, 
and, looking, as Augusta thought, very cross when he saw 
the crowded condition of the court, bowed to the Bar and 
took his seat. 



-4=*§^,-,>.. - • 




CHAPTER XX. 

JAMES BREAKS DOWN. 

;HE Registrar, not Augusta's dear Doctor Probate, 
but another Registrar, rose and called on the 
case of Meeson v. Addison and Another, and 
in an instant the wretched James Short was 
on his legs to open the case. 

" What is that gentleman's name ? " Augusta heard 
the Judge ask of the clerk, after making two or three 
frantic efforts to attract his attention — a proceeding that 
the position of his desk rendered very difficult. 

" Short, my Lord." 

" Do you appear alone for the plaintiff, Mr. Short ? " 
asked the Judge, with emphasis. 

" Yes, my Lord ; I do," answered James, and as he- 
said it every pair of eyes in that crowded assembly 
fixed themselves upon him, and a sort of audible smile 
seemed to run round the court. The thing not unnaturally 
struck the professional mind as ludicrous and without 
precedent. 

"And who appears for the defendants?" 

" I understand, my Lord," said the learned Attorney- 



234 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

General, " that all my learned friends on these two benches 
appear, together with myself, for one or other of the 
defendants, or are watching the case in the interest of 
legatees." 

Here a decided titter interrupted him. 

" I may add that the interests involved in this case 
are very large indeed, which accounts for the number 
of counsel connected in one way or other with the 
defence." 

"Quite so, Mr. Attorney," said the Judge; "but, 
really, the forces seem a little out of proportion. Of 
course the matter is not one in which the Court can 
interfere." 

"If your Lordship will allow me," said James, "the 
only reason that the plaintiff is so poorly represented is 
that the funds to brief other counsel were, I understand, 
not forthcoming. I am, however, well versed in the case, 
and, with your Lordship's permission, will do my best 
with it." 

" Very well, Mr. Short," said the learned Judge, look- 
ing at him almost with pity ; " state your state." 

James, in the midst of a silence that could be felt — 
unfolded his pleadings, and, as he did so, a sickening 
sense of nervousness took hold of him for the first time 
and made him tremble, and, of a sudden, his mind became 
dark. Most of us have undergone this sensation at one 
time or another, with less cause than had poor James. 
There he was, put up almost for the first time in his 
life, to conduct^ single-handed, a very important case, 
upon which it was scarcely too much to say the interest 
of the entire country was concentrated. Nor was this 
all. Opposed to him were about twenty counsel, all of 
them men of experience, and including in their ranks 



JAMES BREAKS DOWN. 235 

some of the most famous leaders in England; and, more- 
over, the court was densely crowded with scores of men 
of his own profession, all of whom were, he felt, regard- 
ing him with curiosity not unmixed with pit}-. Then there 
was the tremendous responsibility, which literally seemed 
to crush him, though he had never quite realised it till 
this moment. 

" May it please your Lordship," he began ; and then, as 
has been said, his mind became a ghastly blank, in which 
dim and formless ideas flitted vaguely to and fro. 

There was a pause — a painful pause. 

" Read your pleadings aloud," whispered a barrister 
who was sitting next him and realised his plight. 

This was an idea. One can read pleadings when one 
cannot collect one's ideas to speak. It is not usual to do 
so. The counsel in a cause states the substance of the 
pleadings, leaving the Court to refer to them if it thinks 
necessary. But still there is nothing absolutely wrong 
about it ; so he snatched at the papers, and promptly 
began : — 

" ' (I.) The plaintiff is the sole and universal legatee 
under the true last will of Jonathan Meeson, deceased, 
late of Pompadour Hall, in the county of Warwick, who 
died on the 23rd of December 1885, the said will being 
undated, but duly executed on, or subsequent to, the 22nd 
day of December 1885.'" 

Here the learned Judge lifted his eyebrows in 
remonstrance, and cleared his throat preparatory to 
interfering; but apparently thought better of it, for he 
took up a blue pencil and made a note of the date of the 
will. 

" '(II.),' " went on James. " 'On the 21st day of May 
1S86, probate of an alleged will of the said Jonathan 



236 MR. MEESONS WILL. 

Meeson was granted to the defendants, the said will 
bearing date the ioth day of November 1885. 

The plaintiff claims — 

"'(1.) That the Court shall revoke probate of the said 
alleged will of the said Jonathan Meeson, bearing date the 
ioth day of November 1885, granted to the defendants 
on the 2 1 st day of May 1886. 

" ' (2.) A grant of letters of administration to the 
plaintiff with the will executed on or subsequent to the 
22nd day of December 1885, annexed. 

(Signed) James Short.' 

" May it please your Lordship," James began again, 
feeling dimly that he had read enough pleadings, " the 
defendants have filed an answer pleading that the will 
of the 22nd of December was not duly executed in accord- 
ance with the statute, and that the testator did not know 
and approve its contents, and an amended answer plead- 
ing that the said alleged will, if executed, was obtained 
by the undue influence of Augusta Smithers," and once 
more his nervousness overcame him, and he pulled up 
with a jerk. 

Then came another pause even more dreadful than 
the first. 

The Judge took another note, as slowly as he could, 
and once more cleared his throat ; but poor James could 
not go on. He could only wish that he might then and 
there expire, rather than face the hideous humiliation of 
such a failure. But he would have failed — for his very 
brain was whirling like that of a drunken man — had it 
not been for an occurrence that caused him ever after 
to bless the name of Fiddlestick, Q.C., as the name of an 
eminent counsel is not often blessed in this ungrateful 



JAMES BREAKS DOWN. 237 

world. For Fiddlestick, Q.C., who, it will be remembered, 
was one of the leaders for the defendants, had been 
watching his unfortunate antagonist, till, realising how 
sorry was his plight, a sense of pity filled his learned 
breast. Perhaps he may have remembered some occasion 
in a dim and distant corner of the past when he had 
suffered from a similar access of frantic terror, or perhaps 
he may have been sorry to think that a young man should 
lose such an unrivalled opportunity of making a name. 
Anyhow, he did a noble act. As it happened, he was 
sitting at the right-hand corner of the Queen's Counsel 
seats, and piled up on the desk before him was a tremendous 
mass of law reports that his clerk had arranged there, 
containing cases to which it might become necessary to 
refer. Now, in the presence of these law reports, Mr. 
Fiddlestick, in the goodness of *us heart, saw an oppor- 
tunity of creating a diversion, and he created it with a 
vengeance ; for, throwing his weight suddenly forward 
as though by accident, or in a movement of impatience, 
he brought his bent arm against the pile with such 
force that he sent every book — and there must have 
been more than twenty of them — over the edge of the 
desk, right on to the head and shoulders of his choleric 
client, Mr. Addison, who was sitting on the solicitors' 
bench immediately beneath. 

Down went the books with a crash and a bang, and, 
carried away by their weight, down went Mr. Addison 
on to his nose among them — a contingency that Fiddle- 
stick, Q.C., by the way, had not foreseen, for he had 
overlooked the fact of his client's vicinity. 

The Judge made an awful face, and then, realising 
the ludicrous nature of the scene, his features relaxed 
into a smile. But Mr. Addison did not smile. lie 



238 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

bounded up from the floor, books slipping off his back in 
every direction, and holding his nose (which was injured) 
with one hand, came skipping right at his learned 
adviser. 

" You did it on purpose ! " he almost shouted, quite 
forgetting where he was. " Just let me get at him ; 
I'll have his wig off!" and then, without waiting for 
any more, the entire audience burst into a roar of laugh- 
ter which, however unseemly, was perfectly reasonable ; 
daring which Mr. Fiddlestick could be seen apologising 
in dumb show, with a bland smile upon his countenance, 
while Mr. News and Mr. Roscoe between them dragged 
the outraged Addison to his seat, and proffered him 
handkerchiefs to wipe his bleeding nose. 

James saw the whole thing, and, forgetting his position, 
laughed too ; and, for some mysterious reason, with the 
laugh his nervousness passed away. 

The usher shouted " Silence ! " with tremendous energy, 
and before the sound had died away James was address- 
ing the Court in a clear and vigorous voice, conscious 
that he was a thorough master of his case, and the words 
to state it in would not fail him. Fiddlestick, Q.C., had 
saved him ! 

" May it please your Lordship," he began, " the details 
of this case are of as remarkable an order as any that, 
to my knowledge, have been brought before the Court. 
The plaintiff, Eustace Meeson, is the sole next-of-kin of 
Jonathan Meeson, Esquire, the late head of the well- 
known Birmingham publishing firm of Meeson, Addison, 
and Roscoe. Under a will, bearing date the 8th day of 
May 1880, the plaintiff was left sole heir to the great 
wealth of his uncle — that is, with the exception of some 
legacies. Under a second will, now relied on by the 




" Down went the books with a crash and a bang, and, carried away by their 
weight, down went Mr. Addison." — J 



JAMES BREAKS DOWN. 241 

defendants, and dated the 10th November 1885, the 
plaintiff was entirely disinherited, and the present defen- 
dants, together with some six or eight legatees, \v< re 
constituted the sole beneficiaries. On or about the 22nd 
December 1885, however, the testator executed a third 
testamentary document, under which the plaintiff takes 
the entire property, and this is the document now pro- 
pounded. This testamentary document, or, rather, will 
— for I submit that it is in every sense a properly 
executed will — is tattooed upon the shoulders " — (sensa- 
tion in the court) — " is tattooed upon the shoulders of 
a young lady, Miss Augusta Smithers, who will presently 
be called before your Lordship ; and to prevent any mis- 
understanding, I may as well at once state that since 
that event this lady has become engaged to be married 
to the plaintiff — (renewed sensation). 

" Such, my Lord, are the main outlines of the case 
that I have to present for the consideration of the Court, 
which I think your Lordship will understand is of so 
remarkable and unprecedented a nature that I must crave 
your Lordship's indulgence if I go on to open it at some 
length, beginning the history at its commencement." 

By this time James Short had completely recovered his 
nerve, and was, indeed, almost oblivious of the fact that 
there was anybody present in the court except the learned 
Judge and himself. Going back to the beginning, he de- 
tailed the early history of the relationship between Eustace 
Meeson and his uncle the publisher, with which this record 
has nothing to do. Thence he passed to the history of 
Augusta's relations with the firm of Meeson & Co., which, 
as nearly everybody in the Court, not excepting the Judge, 
had read "Jemima's Vow," was very interesting to his 
auditors. Then he went on to the scene between Augusta 



242 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

and the publisher, and detailed how Eustace had inter- 
fered, which interference had led to a violent quarrel, 
resulting in the young man's disinheritance. Passing 
on, he detailed how the publisher and the publishee 
had taken passages in the same vessel, and the tragic 
occurrences which followed, down to Augusta's final rescue 
and arrival in England, and finally ended his spirited 
opening by appealing to the Court not to allow its mind 
to be influenced by the fact that since these events the 
two chief actors had become engaged to be married, which 
struck him, he said, as a very fitting climax to so romantic 
a story. 

At last he ceased, and amidst a little buzz of applause 
— for the speech had really been a fine one — sat down. 
As he did so he glanced at the clock. He had been 
on his legs for nearly two hours, and yet it seemed to 
him but a very little while. In another moment he was 
up again, and had called his first witness — Eustace 
Meeson. 

Eustace's evidence was of a rather formal order, and 
was necessarily limited to an account of the relations be- 
tween his uncle and himself, and between himself and 
Augusta. Such as it was, however, he gave it very well, 
and with a complete openness that appeared to produce a 
favourable impression on the Court. 

Then Fiddlestick, Q.C., rose to cross-examine, devoting 
his efforts to trying to make Eustace admit that his be- 
haviour had been of a nature to amply justify his uncle's 
conduct. But there was not very much to be made out of 
it. Eustace detailed all that had passed freely enough, and 
it simply amounted to the fact, that there had been angry 
words between the two as regards the treatment that 
Augusta had met with at the hands of the firm. In short, 



JAMES BREAKS DOWN. 243 

Fiddlestick could not do anything with him, and after ten 
minutes of it, sat down without having advanced his case 
to any appreciable extent. Then several of the other 
counsel asked a question or two apiece, after which Eustace 
was told to stand down, and Lady Holmhurst was called. 
Lady Holmhurst's evidence was very short, merely amount- 
ing to the fact that she had seen Augusta's neck on 
board the Kangaroo, and that there was not then a sign 
of tattoo marks upon it, and when she saw it again 
in London it was tattooed. No attempt was made to 
cross-examine her, and on the termination of her evidence 
the Court adjourned for lunch. When it reassembled 
James Short called Augusta, and a murmur of expectation 
arose from the densely crowded audience as, feeling very 
faint at heart, but looking more beautiful than ever, she 
stepped towards the box. 

As she did so the Attorney-General rose. 

" I must object, my Lord," he said, " on behalf of the 
defendants, to this witness being allowed to enter the 
box." 

" Upon what grounds, Mr. Attorney ? " said his Lord- 
ship. 

" Upon the ground that her mouth is, ipso facto, closed. 
If we are to believe the plaintiff's story, this young lady 
is herself the will of Jonathan Meeson, and being so, is 
certainly, I submit, not competent to give evidence. There 
is no precedent for a document giving evidence, and I 
presume that the witness must be looked upon as a 
document." 

" But, Mr. Attorney," said the Judge, " a document is 
evidence, and evidence of the best sort." 

" Undoubtedly, my Lord ; and we have no objection 
to the document being exhibited fur the Court to draw 



244 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

its conclusions from, but we deny that it is entitled to 
speak in its own explanation. A document is a thing 
which speaks by its written characters. It cannot take 
to itself a tongue and speak by word of mouth also ; 
and in support of this, I may call your Lordship's atten- 
tion to the general principles of law governing the inter- 
pretation of written documents." 

" I am quite aware of those principles, Mr. Attorney, 
and I cannot see that they touch this question." 

" As your Lordship pleases. Then I will fall back 
upon my main contention, that Miss Smithers is, for 
the purposes of this case, a document, and nothing but 
a document, and has no more right to open her mouth 
in support of the plaintiff's case than would any paper 
will, if it could be miraculously endowed with speech." 

" Well," said the Judge, " it certainly strikes me as 
a novel point. What have you to say to it, Mr. 
Short ? " 

All eyes were now turned upon James, for it was 
felt that if the point were decided against him the case 
was lost. 

" The point to which I wish you to address yourself, 
Mr. Short," went on the learned Judge, " is — Is the 
personality of Miss Smithers so totally lost and merged 
in what, for want of a better term, I must call her 
documentary capacity as to take away from her the 
right to appear before this Court like any other sane 
human being, and give evidence of events connected 
with its execution ? " 

"If your Lordship pleases," said James, "I maintain 
that this is not so. I maintain that the document remains 
the document ; and that for all purposes, including the 
giving of evidence concerning its execution, Miss Smithers 



JAMES BREAKS DOWN. 245 

still remains Miss Smithers. It. would surely be absurd 

to argue that because a person has a deed executed 
upon her she is, ipso facto, incapacitated from giving 
evidence concerning it, on the mere ground that she is 
it. Further, such a decision would be contrary to equity 
and good policy, for persons cannot so lightly be de- 
prived of their natural rights. Also, in this case, the 
plaintiffs action would be absolutely put an end to by 
any such decision, seeing that the signature of Jonathan 
Meeson and the attesting witnesses to the will could not, 
of course, be recognised in their tattooed form, and there 
is no other living person who could depose under what 
circumstances the signature came to be there. I submit 
that the objection should be overruled." 

"This," said his Lordship, in giving his decision, "is 
a very curious point, and one which, when first raised 
by the learned Attorney-General, struck me with some 
force ; but on considering it, and hearing Mr. Short, I 
am convinced that it is an objection that cannot be sup- 
ported" — (here Eustace gave a sigh of relief). — " It is argued 
on the part of the defendant that Miss Smithers is, for 
the purposes of this case, a document, and nothing but 
a document, and as such that her mouth is shut. Now, 
I think that the learned Attorney-General cannot have 
thought this matter out when he came to that conclusion. 
What arc the circumstances? A will is supposed to 
have been tattooed upon this lady's skin ; but is the 
skin the whole person? D<» - not the intelligence remain, 
and the individuality? I think that I can put what I 
mean more clearly by means of an illustration. Let us 
suppose that I were to uphold the defendant's objection, 
and that, as a consequence, the plaintiff's case were to 
break down. Then let us suppose that the plaintiff 



246 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

had persuaded the witness to be partially skinned " — ■ 
(here Augusta nearly jumped from her seat) — "and that 
she, having survived the operation, was again tendered 
to the Court as a witness : would the Court then be able, 
under any possibility, to refuse to accept her evidence ? 
The document, in the form of human parchment, would 
then be in the hands of the officers of the Court, and 
the person from whom the parchment had been removed 
would also be before the Court. Could it be still main- 
tained that the two were so identical and inseparable that 
the disabilities attaching to a document must necessarily 
attach to the person ? In my opinion, certainly not. 
Or, to take another case, let us suppose that the will 
had been tattooed upon the leg of a person, and, under 
similar circumstances, the leg were cut off and produced 
before the Court, could it then be seriously advanced that 
because the inscribed leg — standing on the table before the 
Court — had once belonged to the witness sitting in the 
witness-box, therefore it was not competent for the witness 
to give evidence on account of his or her documentary 
attributes ? Certainly it could not. Therefore, it seems 
to me that that which is separable must, for the purposes 
of law, be taken as already separated, and that the will 
tattooed on this witness must be looked upon as though 
it were in the hands, at this moment, of the officers of 
the Court, and, consequently, I overrule the objection." 

"Will your Lordship take a note of your Lordship's 
decision?" asked the Attorney-General, in view of an appeal. 

"Certainly, Mr. Attorney. Let the witness be sworn." 



CHAPTER XXI. 



GRANT AS PRAYED. 




jCCORDINGLY Augusta was sworn ; and Eustace 
observed that when she removed her veil to 
kiss the Book the sight of her sweet face pro- 
duced no small effect upon the crowded court. 

Then James began his examination-in-chief, and fol- 
lowing the lines which he had laid down in his opening 
speech, led her slowly, whilst allowing her to tell her 
own story as much as possible, to the time of the tattooing 
of the will on Kerguelen Land. All along, the history 
had evidently interested everybody in the court — not 
excepting the Judge — intensely, but now the excitement 
rose to boiling point. 

'• Well," said James, "tell his Lordship exactly how 
it came to pass that the will of Mr. Meeson was tattooed 
upon you." 

In quiet but dramatic language Augusta accordingly 
narrated every detail, from the time when Meeson con- 
fided to her his remorse at having disinherited his nephew 
up to the execution of the will, at her suggestion, by the 
sailor upon her own neck. 



248 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

" And now, Miss Smithers," said James, when she had 
done, " I am very sorry to have to do so ; but I must 
ask you to exhibit the document to the Court." 

Poor Augusta coloured and her eyes filled with tears 
as she slowly undid the dust-cloak which hid her 
shoulders (for, of course, she had come in low dress). 
The Judge, looking up sharply, observed her natural 
distress. 

" If you prefer it, Miss Smithers," said his Lordship 
courteously, " I will order the court to be cleared of 
every one except those who are actually engaged in the 
case." 

At these ominous words a shudder of disgust passed 
through the densely packed ranks. It would indeed be 
hard, they felt, if, after all their striving, they were 
deprived of the sight of the will ; and they stared at her 
despairingly, to see what she would answer. 

" I thank your Lordship," she said, with a little bow ; 
" but there would still be so many left that I do not 
think it can greatly matter. I hope that everybody will 
understand my position, and extend their consideration 
to me." 

" Very well," said the Judge, and without further 
ado she took off the cloak, and the . c ilk handkerchief 
beneath it, and stood before the court dressed in a low 
black dress. 

" I am afraid that I must ask you to come up here," 
said his Lordship. Accordingly she walked round, 
mounted the bench, and turned her back to the Judge, 
in order that he might examine what was written on it. 
This he did very carefully with the aid of a magnifying- 
glass, referring now and again to the photographic copy 
which Doctor Probate had filed in the Registry. 




•' Augusta turned her back to the Judge, in order that he might examine what 
was written on it." — Page 248. 



GRANT AS PRAY] D. 251 

" Thank you," he said presently ; " that will do. I am 
afraid that the learned counsel below will wish to have 
an opportunity of inspection." 

So Augusta had to descend and slowly walk along the 
ranks, stopping before ever}'' learned leader to be care- 
fully examined, while hundreds of eager eyes in the 
background were fixed upon her unfortunate neck. How- 
ever, at last it came to an end. 

" That will do, Miss Smithers," said the Judge, for 
whose consideration she felt deeply grateful; "you can 
put on your cloak again now." 

Accordingly she did so, and re-entered the box. 

"The document which you have just sho"wn the Court, 
Miss Smithers," said James, " is the one which was exe- 
cuted upon you in Kerguelen Land on or about the 22nd 
day of December last year ? " 

" It is." 

" It was, I understand, executed in the presence of the 
testator and the two attesting witnesses, all three bein^ 
present together, and the signature of each being tattooed 
in the presence of the other ? " 

" It was." 

" Was the testator, so far as }'OU could judge, at the 
time of the dictation and execution of the will, of sound 
mind, memory, and understanding?" 

" Most certainly he was." 

" Did you, beyond the suggestions of which you 
have already given evidence, in any way unduly influence 
the testator's mind, so as to induce him to make this 
will ? " 

"I did not." 

" And to those facts you swear ? " 

"I do." 



2 5 2 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

Then he passed on to the history of the death of 
the two sailors who had attested the will, and to the 
account of Augusta's ultimate rescue, finally closing his 
examination-in-chief just as the clock struck four, whereon 
the Court adjourned till the following day. 

As may be imagined, though things had gone fairly 
well so far, nobody concerned of our party passed an 
over-comfortable night. The strain was too great to 
admit of it ; and really they were all glad to find them- 
selves in the court, which was, if possible, even more 
crowded on the following morning, filled with the hope 
that that day might see the matter decided one way or the 
other. 

As soon as the Judge had come in, Augusta resumed 
her place in the witness-box, and the Attorney-General 
rose to cross-examine her. 

"You told the Court, Miss Smithers, at the conclusion 
of your evidence, that you are engaged to be married 
to Mr. Meeson, the plaintiff. Now, I am sorry to have 
to put a personal question to you, but I must ask you — 
Were you, at the time of the tattooing of the will, in love 
with Mr. Meeson ? " 

This was a home-thrust, and poor Augusta coloured 
beneath it; however, her native wit came to her 
aid. 

" If you will define, sir, what being in love is, I will 
do my best to answer your question," she said. Whereat 
the audience, including his Lordship, smiled. 

The Attorney-General looked puzzled, as well he might ; 
for there are some things which are beyond the learning of 
even an Attorney-General. 

" Well," he said, " were you matrimonially inclined 
towards Mr. Meeson ? " 



GRANT AS I'RAVKI). 253 

" Surely, Mr. Attorney-General," said the Judge, " the 
one thing does not necessarily include the other?" 

" I bow to your Lordship's experience," said Mr. Attor- 
ney tartly. "Perhaps I had better put my question in 
this way — Had you, at that time, any prospect of becom- 
ing engaged to Mr. Meeson ? " 

" None whatever." 

" Did. you submit to this tattooing, which must have 
been painful, with a view of becoming engaged to the 
plaintiff?" 

" Certainly not. I may point out," she added, with 
hesitation, " that such a disfigurement is not likely to add 
to anybody's attractions." 

" Please answer my questions, Miss Smithers, and do 
not comment on them. How did you come, then, to sub- 
mit yourself to such a disagreeable operation ? " 

" I submitted to it because I thought it right to do so, 
there being no other apparent means at hand of attaining 
the late Mr. Meeson's ends. Also" and she paused. 

" Also what ? " 

"Also, I had a regard for Mr. Eustace Meeson, and I 
knew that he had lost his inheritance through a quarrel 
about myself." 

" Ah ! now we are coming to it. Then you were tattooed 
out of regard for the plaintiff, and not purely in the in- 
terests of justice ? " 

" Yes ; I suppose so." 

"Well, Mr. Attorney," interposed the Judge, "and what 
if she was ? " 

" My object, my Lord, is to show that the young lady 
was not the purely impassive medium in this matter that 
my learned friend, Mr. Short, would lead the Court to 
believe. She was acting from motive." 



254 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

" Most people do," said the Judge dryly. " But it does 
not follow that the motive was an improper one." 

Then the learned gentleman continued his cross-exami- 
nation, directing all the ingenuity of his practised mind 
to trying to prove by Augusta's admissions, first, that the 
testator was acting under the undue influence of herself; 
and secondly, that when the will was executed he was non 
compos mentis. To this end he dwelt at great length on 
every detail of the events between the tattooing of the 
will and the death of the testator on the following day, 
making as much as was possible out of the fact that he 
died in a fit of mania. But do what he would, he could 
not shake her evidence upon any material point, and when 
at last he sat down James Short felt that his case had not 
received any serious blow. 

Then a few more questions having been asked in cross- 
examination by various other counsel, James rose to re- 
examine, and with the object of rebutting the presumption of 
the testator's mental unsoundness, caused Augusta to repeat 
all the details of the confession that the late publisher had 
made to her as regards his methods of trading. It was 
beautiful to see the fury and horror portrayed upon the 
countenances of the choleric Mr. Addison and the cada- 
verous Mr. Roscoe when they heard the most cherished 
secrets of the customs of the trade, as practised at Meeson's, 
thus paraded in the open light of day, while a dozen swift- 
pencilled reporters took every detail down. 

Then at last Augusta was told to stand down, which 
she did thankfully enough, and Mrs. Thomas, the wife of 
Captain Thomas, was called. She proved the finding of 
Augusta on the island, and that she had seen the hat of 
one of the sailors, and the rum-cask two-thirds empty, 
and also produced the shell out of which the men had 



GRANT AS l'RAVED. 



•55 



drunk the rum (which shell the Judge recalled Augusta 
to identity). What was most important, however, was, 
that she gave the most distinct evidence that she had her- 
self seen the remains of Mr. Meeson interred, and identi 
the body as that of the late publisher by picking out his 
photograph from among a bundle of a dozen that v. 
handed to her. Also, she swore that when Augusta came 
aboard the whaler the tattoo marks on her neck were not 
healed. 

Xo cross-examination of this witness worth the name 
having been attempted, James called a clerk from the office 
of the late owners of the R.M.S. Kangaroo, who produced 
a roll of the ship's company, on which the names of the two 
sailors, Johnnie Butt and Bill Jones, duly appeared. 

This closed the plaintiff's case, and the Attorney-General 
at once proceeded to call his witnesses, reserving his re- 
marks till the conclusion of the evidence. He had only 
two witnesses, Mr. Todd, the lawyer who drew and at- 
tested the will of November io, and his clerk, who also 
attested it, and their examination did not take long. In 
cross-examination, however, both these witnesses admitted 
that the testator was in a great state of passion when he 
executed the will, and gave details of the lively scene that 
then occurred. 

Then the Attorney-General rose to address the Court 
for the defendants. He said there were two questions 
before the Court, reserving, for the present, the question 
as to the admissibility of the evidence of Augusta 
Smithers ; and those were — first, did the tattoo marks 
upon the lady's neck constitute a will at all ? and 
secondly, supposing that they did, was it proved to the 
satisfaction of the Court that these undated marks were 
duly executed by a sane and uninfluenced man, in the 



256 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

presence of the witnesses, as required by the statute ? 
He maintained, in the first place, that these marks were 
no will within the meaning of the statute; but, feeling 
that he was not on very sound ground on this point, 
quickly passed to the other aspects of the case. With 
much force and ability he dwelt upon the strangeness 
of the whole story, and how it rested solely upon the 
evidence of one witness, Augusta Smithers. It was only 
if the Court accepted her evidence as it stood that it could 
come to the conclusion that the will was executed at all, 
or, indeed, that the two attesting witnesses were on the 
island at all. Considering the relations which existed 
between this witness and the plaintiff, was the Court 
prepared to accept her evidence in this unreserved way ? 
Was it prepared to decide that this will, in favour of 
a man with whom the testator had violently quarrelled, 
and had disinherited in consequence of that quarrel, was 
not, if indeed it was executed at all, extorted by this 
lady from a weak and dying, and possibly a deranged, 
man ? And with this question the learned gentleman 
sat down. 

He was followed briefly by the Solicitor- General and 
Mr. Fiddlestick ; but though they talked fluently enough, 
addressing themselves to various minor points, they had 
nothing fresh of interest to adduce, and on their finishing 
at half-past three, James rose to reply upon the whole 
case on behalf of the plaintiff. 

There was a moment's pause while he was arranging 
his notes, and then, just as he was about to begin, the 
Judge said quietly, "Thank you, Mr. Short; 1 do not 
think that I need trouble you," and James sat down with 
a gasp, for he knew that the cause was won. 

Then his Lordship began, and after giving a masterly 



GRANT AS l'K.W HI). 



■57 



summary of the whole case, concluded as follows : — " Such 
arc the details of the most remarkable probate cause that 
I ever remember to have had brought to my notice, either 
during my career at the Bar or on the Bench. It will 
be obvious, as the learned Attorney-General has said, 
that the whole case really lies between two points. Is 
the document on the neck of Augusta Smithers a sufficient 
will to carry the property ? and, if so, is the unsupported 
story of that lady as to the execution of the document to 
be believed ? Now, what does the law understand by 
the term ' Will ' ? Surely it understands some writing 
that expresses the wish or will of a person as to the 
disposition of his property after his decease. This 
writing must be executed with certain formalities ; but if 
it is so executed by a person not labouring under any 
mental or other disability it is indefeasible, except by the 
subsequent execution of a fresh testamentary document, 
or by its destruction or attempted destruction, animo 
rci'ocandi, or by marriage. Subject to these formalities 
required by the law, the form of the document — provided 
that its meaning is clear — is immaterial. Now, do the 
tattoo marks on the back of this lady constitute such a 
document, and do they convey the true last will or wish 
of the testator? That is the first point that I have to 
decide, and I decide it in the affirmative. It is true that 
it is not usual for testamentary documents to be tattooed 
upon the skin of a human being ; but, because it is not 
usual, it does not follow that a tattooed document is not 
a valid one. The ninth section of the Statute of I Vic. 
cap. 26 specifies that no will shall be valid unless it is 
in writing; but cannot this tattooing be considered as 
writing within the meaning of the Act ? I am clearly of 
opinion that it can, if only on the ground that the material 



25S MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

used was ink — a natural ink, it is true, that of the cuttle- 
fish, but still ink ; for I may remark that the natural 
product of the cuttle-fish was at one time largely used in 
this country for that very purpose. Further, in reference 
to this part of the case, it must be borne in mind that 
the testator was no eccentric being, who from whim or 
perversity chose this extraordinary method of signifying 
his wishes as to the disposal of his property. He was 
a man placed in about as terrible a position as it is 
possible to conceive. He was, if we are to believe the 
story of Miss Smithers, most sincerely anxious to revoke 
a disposition of his property which he now, standing face 
to face with the greatest issue of his life, recognised to 
be unjust, and which was certainly contrary to the prompt- 
ings of nature as experienced by most men. And yet in 
this terrible strait in which he found himself, and notwith- 
standing the earnest desire, which grew more intense as 
his vital forces ebbed, he could find absolutely no means 
of carrying out his wish. At length, however, the plan 
of tattooing his will upon the living flesh of a younger and 
stronger person is presented to him, and he eagerly avails 
himself of it ; and the tattooing is duly carried out in 
his presence and at his desire, and as duly signed and 
witnessed. Can it be seriously argued that a document 
so executed does not fulfil the bare requirements of the 
law ? I think that it cannot, and am of opinion that such 
a document is as much a valid will as though it had been 
engrossed upon the skin of a sheep, and duly signed and 
witnessed in the Temple. 

"And now I will come to the second point. Is the 
evidence of Miss Smithers to be believed ? First, let us 
see where it is corroborated. It is clear, from the testi- 
mony of Lady Holmhurst, that when on board the ill-fated 



C.RANT AS PRAYED. 259 

Kai . , Miss Smithers had no tattoo marks upon h, r. 

It is equally clear, from the unshaken testimony of Mrs. 
Thomas, that when she was rescued by the American 
whaler her neck was marked with tattooing, then in 
the healing stage — with tattooing which could not pos- 
sibly have been inflicted by herself or by the child, who 
was her sole living companion. It is also proved that 
there was seen upon the island by Mrs. Thomas the dead 
body of a man, which she was informed was that of 
Mr. Meeson, and which she here in court identified by 
means of a photograph. Also, this same witness produced 
a shell which she picked up in one of the huts, said to be 
the shell used by the sailors to drink the rum that led to 
their destruction ; and she swore that she saw a sailor's 
hat lying on the beach. Now, all this is corroborative 
evidence, and of a sort not to be despised. Indeed, as to 
one point, that of the approximate date of the execution 
of the tattooing, it is to my mind final. Still, there does 
remain an enormous amount that must be accepted or not, 
according as to whether or no credence can be placed on 
the unsupported testimony of Miss Smithers, for we can- 
call on a child so young as the present Lord Holm- 
hurst to bear witness in a court of justice. If Miss 
Smithers, for instance, is not speaking the truth when she 
declares that the signature of the testator was tattooed 
upon her under his immediate direction, or that it was 
tattooed in the presence of the two sailors, Butt and Jones, 
whose signatures were also tattooed in the presence of the 
testator and of each other, no will at all was executed, 
and the plaintiff's case collapses utterly, since, from the 
very nature of the facts, evidence as to handwriting would, 
of course, be useless. Now, I approach the decision of 
this point after anxious thought and some hesitation. It 



2 6o MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

is not a light thing to set aside a formally executed docu- 
ment such as the will of November io, upon which the 
defendants rely, and to entirely alter the devolution of a 
vast amount of property, upon the unsupported testimony 
of a single witness. It seems to me, however, that there 
are two tests which the Court can more or less set up as 
standards wherewith to measure the truth of the matter. 
The first of these is, the accepted probability of the action 
of an individual under any given set of circumstances, as 
drawn from our common knowledge of human nature ; and 
the second, the behaviour and tone of the witness, both in 
the box and in the course of circumstances that led to 
her appearance there. I will take the last of those two 
iirst, and I may as well state, without further delay, that 
I am convinced of the truth of the story told by Miss 
Smithers. It would, to my mind, be impossible for any 
man whose intelligence had been trained by years of ex- 
perience in this and other courts, and whose daily duty it 
is to discriminate as to the credibility of testimony, to dis- 
believe the history so circumstantially detailed in the box 
by Miss Smithers. (Sensation.) I watched her demeanour 
both under examination and cross-examination very closely 
indeed, and I am convinced that she was telling the absolute 
truth so far as she knew it. 

" And now to come to the second point. It has been 
suggested, as throwing doubt upon Miss Smithers' story, 
,hat the existence of an engagement to marry, between 
her and the plaintiff, may have prompted her to concoct 
a monstrous fraud for his benefit ; and this is suggested 
although at the time of the execution of the tattooing no 
such engagement did, as a matter of fact, exist, or was 
within measurable distance of the parties. It did not 
exist, said the Attorney-General ; but the disposing mind 



GRANT AS PRAYED. 261 

existed; in other words, that she was then 'in love' — if, 
notwithstanding Mr. Attorney's difficulty in defining it, I 
may use the term — with the plaintiff. This may or may 
not have been the case. There are some things which it 
is quite beyond the power of" any judge or jury to decide, 
and one of them certainly is — at what exact period of her 
acquaintance with a future husband a young lady's regard 
merges, into a warmer feeling. But supposing that the 
Attorney-General is right, and that although she at that 
moment clearly had no prospect of marrying him, since 
she had left England to seek her fortune at the antipodes, 
the plaintiff was looked upon by this lady with that kind 
of regard which is supposed to precede the matrimonial 
contract, the circumstance, in my mind, tells rather in his 
favour than against him. For, in passing, I may remark 
that this young lady has done a thing which is, in its way, 
little short of heroic ; the more so, because it has a ludicrous 
side. She has submitted to an operation which must not 
only have been painful, but which is and always will be 
a blot upon her beauty. I am inclined to agree with the 
Attorney-General when he says that she did not make this 
sacrifice without a motive, which may have sprung from a 
keen sense of justice, and of gratitude to the plaintiff for 
his interference on her behalf, or from a warmer feeling. 
In either case, there is nothing discreditable about it — 
rather the reverse, in fact ; and, taken by itself, there is 
ainly nothing here to cause me to disbelieve the evidence 
of Miss Smithers. 

"One question only seems to me to remain. Is there 
anything to show that the testator was not, at the time of 
the execution of the will, of a sound and disposing mind ? 
and is there anything in his conduct or history to rei: 
the hypothesis of his having executed this will so impro- 



262 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

bable that the Court should take the improbability into 
account ? As to the first point, I can find nothing. Miss 
Smithers expressly swore that it was not the case ; nor 
was her statement shaken by a very searching cross- 
examination. She admitted, indeed, that shortly before 
death he wandered in his mind, and thought that he 
was surrounded by the shades of authors waiting to be 
revenged upon him. But it is no uncommon thing for 
the mind thus to fail at the last, and it is not extra- 
ordinary that this dying man should conjure before his 
brain the shapes of those with some of whom he appears 
to have dealt harshly during his life. Nor do I consider it 
in any way impossible that when he felt his end approach- 
ing he should have wished to reverse the sentence of his 
anger, and restore to his nephew, whose only offence had 
been a somewhat indiscreet use of the language of truth, 
the inheritance to vast wealth of which he had deprived 
him. Such a course strikes me as being a most natural 
and proper one, and perfectly in accordance with the 
first principles of human nature. The whole tale is un- 
doubtedly of a wild and romantic order, and once again 
illustrates the saying that ' truth is stranger than fiction.' 
Still I have no choice but to accept the fact that the 
deceased did, by means of tattooing, carried out by his 
order, legally execute his true last will in favour of his 
next-of-kin, Eustace H. Meeson, upon the shoulders of 
Augusta Smithers, on or about the 22nd day of December 
1885. This being so, I revoke the probate that has issued 
of the will of the 10th of November ; I pronounce for the 
will propounded by the plaintiff, and there will be a grant 
as prayed." 

"With costs, my Lord ?" asked James, rising. 

" No ; I am not inclined to go that length. This 



GRAN r AS PRAY I'D. 26 



i 



litigation has arisen through the testator's own act, and 
the estate must bear the burden." 

"If your Lordship pleases," said James, and sat down. 

" Mr. Short," said the Judge, clearing his throat, " I 
do not often speak in such a sense, but I do feel called 
upon to compliment you upon the way in which you have, 
single-handed, conducted this case — in some ways one 
of the strangest and most important that has ever come 
before me — having for your opponents so formidable an 
array of learned gentlemen. The performance would have 
been creditable to anybody of greater experience and 
longer years ; as it is, I believe it to be unprecedented." 

James turned colour, bowed, and sat down, knowing 
that he was a made man, and that it would now be his 
own fault if his future career at the Bar was not one of 
almost unexampled prosperity. 




• 



CHAPTER XXII. 

ST. GEORGE'S, HANOVER SQUARE. 

j]HE Court broke up in confusion, and Augusta, 
now that the strain was over, noticed with 
amusement that the dark array of learned 
counsel who had been fighting with all their 
strength to win the case for their clients did not seem 
to be particularly distressed at the reverse that they 
had suffered, but chatted away gaily as they tied up 
their papers with scraps of red tape. She did not, 
perhaps, quite realise that, having done their best and 
earned their little fees, they did not feel called on to be 
heart-broken because the Court declined to take the view 
they were paid to support. But it was a very different 
matter with Messrs. Addison and Roscoe, who had just 
seen two millions of money slip from their avaricious 
grasp. They were rich men already ; but that fact did 
not gild the pill, for the possession of money does not 
detract from the desire for the acquisition of more. Mr. 
Addison was purple with fury, and Mr. Roscoe hid his 
saturnine face in his hands and groaned. Just then 
the Attorney-General rose, and seeing James Short coming 



ST. GEORGE'S, HANOVER SQUARE. 265 

forward to speak to his clients, stopped him and shook 
hands with him warmly. 

" Let me congratulate you, my dear fellow," he said. 
" I never saw a case better done. It was a perfect 
pleasure to me, and I am very glad that the Judge thought 
fit to compliment you — a most unusual thing, by the way. 
I can only say that I hope that I may have the good 
fortune, to have you as my junior sometimes in the future. 
By the way, if you have no other engagement I wish that 
you would call round at my chambers to-morrow about 
twelve." 

Mr. Addison, who was close by, overheard this little 
speech, and a new light broke upon him. With a bound, 
he plunged between James and the Attorney-General. 

" I see what it is now," he said, in a voice shaking with 
wrath. " I've been sold ! I am a victim to collusion. 
You've had five hundred of my money, confound you!" 
he shouted, almost shaking his fist in the face of his 
learned and dignified adviser ; " and now you are con- 
gratulating this man ! " and he pointed his finger at 
James. " You've been bribed to betray me, sir ! You 
are a rascal ! — yes, a rascal ! " 

At this point the learned Attorney-General, forgetting 
his learning and the exceeding augustness of his position, 
actually reverted to those first principles of human nature 
of which the Judge had spoken, and doubled his fist. 
Indeed, had not Mr. News, utterly aghast at such a sight, 
rushed up and dragged his infuriated client back, there is 
no knowing what scandalous thing might have happened. 

But somehow Mr. Addison was got rid of, and everybody 
melted away, leaving the ushers to go round and collect the 
blotting-paper and pens which strewed the empty court. 

"And now, good people," said Lady Holmhurst, "I 



2 66 MR. MEESON'S WILT. 

think that the best thing we can do is all to go home 
and rest before dinner. I ordered it at seven, and it 

..alf-past five. I hope that you will come too, Mr. 
Short, and bring your brother with you ; for I am sure 
that both of you deserve your dinner, if ever anybody 
did." 

And so they all went, and a very pleasant dinner they 
had, as well they might. At last, however, it came to an 
end, and the legal twins departed, beaming like stars with 
happiness and champagne. And then Lady Holmhurst 
went also, and left Eustace and Augusta alone. 

" Life is a queer thing," said Eustace ; " this morning 
I was a publisher's reader at £\%0 a year; and now, 
to-night, if this verdict holds, it seems that I am 
the wealthiest men in England." 

"Y lear/' said Augusta, "and with all the world 
at your feet, for life is full of opportunities to the rich. 
You have a great future before you, Eustace ; I really am 
ashamed to marry so rich a man." 

" My darling ! " he said, putting his arm round her ; 
"whatever I have I owe to you. Do you know, t. 

• nly one thing that I fear about all this money, if it 

really comes to us : and it is, that you will be so taken up 

with what pleasu; :ing people call social duties, and the 

ribution of it, that you will give up your writing. So 

many women are like this. Whatever ability they have 

.is to vanish utterly away upon their we day. 

y say afterwards that they have no time, but I often 

think it is because they do not cl to make time." 

"Yes," ; "but then they do . 

Ily love their work, whatever it may be. Those who 
e their art as J love mine, with heart and soul 
gth, will not -ily checked. ( )\ COOT 



- r GEORGES, II \\> >\ 1 K SQUARE. 

distractions ami cares come with marriage ; but, on the 
other hand, it" one marries happily, there conic quiet of 
mind and cessation from that ceaseless restlessness which 
is so fatal to good work. Yon need not fear, Eustace; if 
1 can, 1 will show the world that you have not married a 
dullard; and if I can't— why, my dear, it will be because 
I am one." 

" Thqt comes very nicely from the author of 'Jemima's 
Vow,'" said Eustace, with sarcasm. "Really, my dear, 
what between your fame as a writer and as the heroine 
of the shipwreck and of the great will case, I think that 
1 had better take a back scat at once, for I shall certainly 
be known as the husband of the beautiful and gifted 
Mrs. Meeson " 

" Oh no," answered Augusta ; " don't be afraid ; nobody 
would dream of speaking slightingly of the owner of two 
millions of money." 

" Well, never mind chaffing about the money," said 
Eustace; "we haven't got it yet, for one thing. I have 
got something to ask you." 

" I must be going to bed," said Augusta firmly. 

" No — nonsense ! " said Eustace. " You are not going," 
and he caught her by the arm. 

" Unhand me, sir I " said Augusta, with majesty. 
" Now what do you want, you silly boy?" 

" 1 want to know if you will marry me next week." 

" Next week ? Good gracious ! No," said Augusta. 
"Why, I have not got my things; and, lor the matter of 
that, I am sure I do not know where the money is coming 
from to pay for them." 

"Things!" said Eustace, with fine contempt. "You 
managed to live on Kerguelen Land without things, so I 
don't see why you can't get married without them — though, 



268 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

for the matter of that, I will get anything you want in six 
hours. I never did hear such nonsense as women talk 
about ' things.' Listen, dear. For heaven's sake let's get 
married and have a little quiet ! I can assure you that 
if you do not, your life won't be worth having after this. 
You will be hunted like a wild thing, and interviewed, 
and painted, and worried to death ; whereas, if you get 
married — well, it will be better for us in a quiet way, you 
know." 

" Well, there is something in that," said Augusta. 
" But supposing that there should be an appeal, and the 
decision should be reversed, what would happen then ? " 

" Well, then we should have to work for our living — 
that's all. I have got my billet, and you could write for 
the press until your five years' agreement with Meeson 
and Co. has run out. I would put you in the way of 
that. I see lots of writing people at my shop." 

"Well," said Augusta, "I will speak to Bessie about it." 

" Oh, of course Lady Holmhurst will say no," said 
Eustace gloomily. " She will think about the ' things ; ' 
and, besides, she won't want to lose you before she is 
obliged." 

" That is all that I can do for you, sir," said Augusta, 
with decision. " Good-night ; " and breaking away from 
him, she made a pretty little curtsey and vanished. 

" Now, I wonder what she means to do," meditated 
Eustace, as the butler brought him his hat. " I really 
should not wonder if she came round to it. But then, 
one never knows how a woman will take a thing. If she 
will, she will, &c. &c." 

****** 

And now, it ma)' strike the reader as very strange, 
but, as a matter of fact, ten days from the date of the 



GE< iRGE'S, ll AM AIR SQUAR] 

above conversation, there was a small-and-early gather- 
ing at St. George's, Hanover Square, close by. I say 
" small," for the marriage had been kept quite secretin 

order to prevent curiosity-mongers from marching down 
upon it in their thousands, as they would certainly have 
done had it been announced that the heroine of the great 
will case was going to be married. Therefore the party 
was very select. Augusta had no relations of her own ; 
and so she had asked Dr. Probate, with whom she had 
struck up a great friendship, to come and give her away ; 
and though the old gentleman's previous career had had 
more connection with the undoing of the nuptial tie than 
with its contraction, he could not find it in his heart to 
refuse. 

" I shall be neglecting my duties, you know, my dear 
young lady," he said, shaking his head. " It's very 
wrong — very wrong, for I ought to be at the Registry ; 
but — well, perhaps I can manage to come — very wrong, 
though — very wrong, and quite out of my line of business ! 
I expect that I shall begin to address the Court — I mean 
the clergyman — for the petitioner." 

And so it came to pass that on this auspicious day the 
registering was left to look after itself; and, as a matter 
of history, it may be stated that no question was asked 
in Parliament about it. 

Then there was Lady Holmhurst, looking very pretty 
in her widow's dress ; and her boy Dick, who was in the 
highest spirits, and bursting with health and wonder at 
these strange proceedings on the part of his "auntie;" 
and, of course, the legal twins brought up the rear. 

And there in the vestry stood Augusta in her bridal 
dress, as sweet a woman as ever the sun shone on ; and 
looking at her beautiful face, Dr. Probate nearly fell in 



270 



MR. MEESON'S WILL. 



love with her himself. And yet it was a sad face just 
then. She was happy — very, as a loving woman who 
is about to be made a wife should be ; but when a great 
joy draws near to us it comes companioned by the shadows 
of our old griefs. 

The highest sort of happiness has a peculiar faculty of 
recalling to our minds that which has troubled them in 
the past, the truth being, that extremes in this, as in other 
matters, will sometimes touch, which would seem to sug- 
gest that sorrow and happiness — however varied in their 
bloom — yet have a common root. Thus it was with 
Augusta now. As she stood in the vestry there came to 
her mind a recollection of her dear little sister, and of 
how she had prophesied happy greatness and success for 
her. Now the happiness and the success were at hand, 
and there in the aisle stood her own true love ; but yet 
the recollection of that dear face, and of the little mound 
which covered it, rested on them like a shadow. It passed 
with a sigh, and in its place there came the memory of 
poor Mr. Tombey, but for whom she would not have been 
standing there a bride, and of his last words as he put 
her into the boat. He was food for fishes now, poor 
man ! and she was left alone with a great and happy 
career opening out before her — a career in which her 
talents would have free space to work. And yet how odd 
to think it ! two or three score of years and it would all 
be one, and she would be as Mr. Tombey was. Poor 
Mr. Tombey ! perhaps it was as well that he was not 
there to see her happiness ; and let us hope that, wher- 
ever it is we go after the last event, we lose sight of 
the world and those we knew therein. Otherwise there 
must be more hearts broken in heaven above than in earth 
beneath. 



ST. GEORGE'S, HANOVER SQUARE. 271 

"Now then, Miss Smithers," broke in Dr. Probate, 

r the very last time — nobody will call you that again, 
you know — take my arm; his Lordship — I mean the 
parson — is there.'' 

It was done, and they were man and wife. Well, even 
the happiest marriage is always a good thing to get over. 
It was not a long drive back to Hanover Square, and the 
very first sight that greeted them on their arrival was the 
infant from the City (John's), holding in his hand a legal- 
looking letter, accompanied by his brother, the infant from 
Pump Court (James's), who had, presumably, come to 
show him the way, or more probably because he thought 
that there would be eatables going. 

" Marked ' immediate,' sir ; so I thought that I had 
better serve it at once," said the first infant, handing the 
letter to John. 

" What is it ? " asked Eustace nervously. He had 
grown to hate the sight of a lawyer's letter with a deadly 
hate. 

" Notice of appeal, I expect," said John. 

" Open it, man ! " said Eustace, " and let's get it over." 

Accordingly, John did so, and read as follows : — 

" Meeson v. Addison and Another. 

"Dear Sir, — After consultation with our clients, 
Messrs. Addison and Roscoe, we are enabled to make 
you the following offer. If no account is required of the 

mesne profits " 

.hat's a wrong term," said James irritably. "Mesne 
profits refer to profits derived from real estate. Just like 
a solicitor to make such a blunuer." 



272 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

" The definition is perfectly appropriate," replied his 
twin, with warmth. " There was some real estate, and, 
therefore, the term can properly be applied to the whole 
of the income." 

" For Heaven's sake, don't argue, but get on ! " said 
Eustace. " Don't you see that I am on tenterhooks ? " 

" — my clients," continued John, " are ready to under- 
take that no appeal shall be presented in the v recent case 
of Meeson v. Addison and Another. If, however, the 
plaintiff insists upon an account, the usual steps will 
be taken to bring the matter before a higher court. — 
Obediently yours, " News and News. 

"John Short, Esq. 

" P.S. — An immediate reply will oblige. ' 

" Well, Meeson, what do you say to that ? " said John ; 
" but I beg your pardon, I forgot : perhaps you would 
like to take counsel's opinion," and he pointed to James, 
who was rubbing his bald head indignantly. 

" Oh, no, I should not," answered Eustace ; " I've 
quite made up my mind. Let them stick to their 
mesne " (here James made a face) ; " well, then, to their 
middle or their intermediate or their anything else profits. 
No appeals for me, if I can avoid it. Send News a 
telegram." 

" That," began James, in his most solemn and legal 
tones, " is a view of the matter in which I am glad to be 
able to heartily coincide, although it seems to me that there 
are several points, which I will touch on one by one." 

" Good gracious ! no," broke in Lady Holmhurst deci- 
sively. 

The learned James collapsed with an aggrieved sigh, 



S I. ill I iRGE'S, HANOVER SQUARE. 

and then, the telegram to News and News having been 
sent oft", they all went in to the wedding breakfast. 

In a general way, wedding breakfasts are not par- 
ticularly lively affairs. There is a mock hilarity about 
them that docs not tend to true cheerfulness, and those 
of the guests who arc not occupied with graver thoughts 
are probably thinking of the dyspepsia which comes after. 
But this particular breakfast was an exception. For the 
first time* since her husband's unfortunate death, Lady 
Holmhurst seemed to have entirely recovered her spirits, 
and became her old self; and a very charming self it was, 
so charming, indeed, that even James forgot his learning 
and the responsibilities of his noble profession, and talked 
like an ordinary Christian. Indeed, he even went so 
far as to pay her an elephantine compliment ; but as it 
was three sentences long, and divided into points, it shall 
not be repeated here. 

And then, at length, Dr. Probate rose to propose the 
bride's health ; which he did very nicely, as might have 
been expected from a man with his extraordinary familiarity 
with matrimonial affairs. His speech was quite charm- 
ing, and aptly sprinkled with classical quotations. 

" I have often," he ended, " heard it advanced that all 
men are in reality equally favoured by the Fates in th< ir 
passage through the world. I have always doubted the 
truth of that assertion, and now I am convinced of its 
falsity. Mr. Eustace Meeson is a very excellent young 
man, and, if I may be allowed to say so, a very good- 
looking young man ; but what, I would ask this assembled 
company, has Mr. Meeson done above the rest of men 
to justify his supreme good fortune ? Why should this 
young gentleman be picked out from the multitude of 
young gentlemen to inherit two millions of money, and 



274 MR. MEESON ; S WILL. 

to marry the most charming — yes, the most charming, 
and the most talented, and the bravest young lady that 
I have ever met — a young lady who not only carries 
twenty fortunes on her face, but another fortune in her 
brain, — and such a fortune, too ! Sir" — he bowed towards 
Eustace — 

" ' Lovely Thais sits beside thee, 

Take the goods the gods provide thee." 

I salute you, as all men must salute one so supremely 
favoured. Humbly I salute you ; humbly I pray that 
you may continually deserve the almost unparalleled good 
that it has pleased Providence to bestow upon you." 

And then Eustace rose and made his speech, and a very 
good speech it was, considering the trying circumstances 
under which it was made. He told them how he had 
fallen in love with Augusta's sweet face the very first time 
that he had set eyes upon it in the office of his uncle at 
Birmingham. He told them what he had felt when, after 
getting some work in London, he had returned to 
Birmingham to find his lady-love flown, and of what he 
had endured when he heard that she was among the 
drowned on board the Kangaroo. Then he came to the 
happy day of the return, and to that still happier day 
when he discovered that he had not loved her in vain, 
finally ending thus — 

" Dr. Probate has said that I am a supremely fortunate 
man, and I admit the truth of his remark. I am, indeed, 
fortunate above my deserts, so fortunate that I feel afraid. 
When I turn and see my beloved wife sitting at my side, 
I am fearful lest I should after all be dreaming a dream, 
and awake to find nothing but emptiness. And then, on 
the other hand, is this colossal wealth, which has come to 



ST. GEORGE'S, HANOVER SQUARE. 275 

me through her, and there again I feel afraid. But, please 
Heaven, I hope with her help to do some good with it, 
remembering always that it is a great trust that has 
been placed in my hands. And she also is a trust and a 
far more inestimable one, and as I deal with her so may I 
be dealt with here and hereafter." 

Then, by an afterthought, he proposed the health of the 
legal twins, who single-handed had so nobly borne the 
brunt of the affray, and routed the Attorney-General and 
all his learned host. 

Thereon James rose to reply in terms of heavy 
eloquence, and would have gone through the whole case 
again had not Lady Ilolmhurst in despair pulled him by 
the sleeve and told him that he must propose her health, 
which he did with sincerity, lightly alluding to the fact 
that she was a widow by describing her as being in a 
" discovert condition, with all the rights and responsi- 
bilities of a ' femme sole.'" 

Everybody burst out laughing, including pooi Lady 
Holmhurst herself, and James sat down, not without 
indignation that a giddy world should object to an exact 
and legal definition of the status of the individual as set 
out by the law. 

And after that Augusta went to change her dress, and 
then came the hurried good-byes ; and, to escape observa- 
tion, they drove off in a hansom cab amidst a shower of 
old shoes. 

There in that hansom cab we will leave them. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 



MEESON'S ONCE AGAIN. 




MONTH had passed— a month of long, summer 
days, and such happiness as young people who 
truly love each other can get out of a honey- 
moon spent under the most favourable cir- 
cumstances in the sweetest, sunniest spots of the Channel 
Islands. And now the curtain draws up for the last time 
in this history, where it drew up for the first — in the 
inner office of Meeson's huge establishment. 

During the last fortnight certain communications had 
passed between Mr. John Short, being duly authorised 
thereto, and the legal representatives of Messrs. Addison 
& Roscoe, with the result that the interests of these gentle- 
men in the great publishing house had been bought up, 
and that Eustace Meeson was the sole owner of the vast 
concern, which he intended to take under his personal 
supervision. 

Now, accompanied by John Short, whom he had ap- 
pointed to the post of solicitor both of his business and 
private affairs, and by Augusta, he was engaged in for- 



MEESON'S « INCE AGAIN. 277 

mally taking over the keys from the head manager, who 
was known throughout the establishment as No. I. 

" 1 wish to refer to the authors' agreements of the early 
part of last year," said Eustace. 

No. 1 produced them somewhat sulkily. He did not 
like the appearance of this determined young owner upon 
the scene, with his free and un-Meeson-like ways. 

Eustace turned them over, and while he did so, his 
happy wife stood by him, marvelling at the kaleidoscopic 
change in her circumstances. When last she had stood 
in that office, not a year ago, it had been as a pitiful 
suppliant, begging for a few pounds wherewith to try and 
save her sister's life, and now 

Suddenly Eustace stopped his search, and drawing a 
document from the bundle, glanced at it. It was Augusta's 
agreement with Meeson & Co. for " Jemima's Vow," the 
agreement binding her to them for five years, which had 
been the cause of all her troubles, and, as she firmly 
believed, of her little sister's death. 

" There, my dear," said Eustace to his wife, " there is 
a present for you. fake it ! 

Augusta took the document, and having looked to see 
what it was, shivered. It brought the whole thing back so 
painfull)' to her mind. 

" What shall I do with it ? " she asked ; " tear it up ? " 

" Yes," he answered. " Xo, stop a bit ; " and, taking it 
from her, he wrote " Cancelled " in big letters across it, 
signed, and dated it. 

"There," he said; "now send it to be framed and 
glazed, and it shall be hung here in the office, to show 
how they used to do business at Mceson's." 

Xo. 1 snorted, and looked at Eustace aghast. What 
would the young man be after next ? 



278 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

" Are the gentlemen assembled in the hall ? " asked 
Eustace of him when the remaining documents were put 
away again. 

No. I said that they were, and, accordingly, to the hall 
they went, wherein were gathered all the editors, sub- 
editors, managers, sub-managers of the various depart- 
ments, clerks, and other employes, not excepting the tame 
authors, who, a pale and mealy regiment, had been marched 
up thither from the Hutches, and the tame artists with 
flying hair. Now they were being marshalled in lines by 
No. i, who had gone on before. When Eustace, his wife, 
and John Short reached the top of the hall, where some 
chairs had been set, the whole multitude bowed, whereon 
he begged them to be seated — a permission of which the 
tame authors, who sat all day in their little wooden 
hutches, and sometimes a good part of the night also, did 
not seem to care to avail themselves of. But the tame 
artists, who, for the most part, had to work standing, sat 
clown readily. 

" Gentlemen," said Eustace, " first let me introduce you 
to my wife, Mrs. Meeson, who, in another capacity, has 
already — not greatly to her own profit — been connected 
with this establishment, having written the best work of 
fiction that has ever gone through our printing-presses " 
— (Here some of the wilder spirits cheered, and Augusta 
blushed and bowed) — "and who will, I hope and trust, 
write many even better books, which we shall have the 
honour of giving to the world." (Applause.) " Also, 
gentlemen, let me introduce you to Mr. John Short, my 
solicitor, who, together with his twin-brother, Mr. James 
Short, brought the great lawsuit in which I was engaged 
to a successful issue. 

"And now I have to tell why I have summoned } r ou 



MEESON*S ONCE AGAIN. 

all to meet me here. First of all, it is to say that I am 
now the sole owner of this business, having bought out 
Messrs. Addison and Roscoe " — ("And a good job too," 
said a voice) — " and that I hope we shall work well 
together ; and secondly, to inform you that I am going 
to totally revolutionise the course of business as hitherto 
practised in this establishment " — (Sensation) — " having, 
with the, assistance of Mr. Short, drawn up a scheme for 
that purpose. I am informed in the statement of profits, 
on which the purchase price of the shares of Messrs. 
Addison and Roscoe was calculated, that the average net 
profits of this house during the last ten years have 
amounted to forty-seven and a fraction per cent, on the 
capital invested. Now, I have determined that in future 
the net profits of any given undertaking shall be divided 
as follows : — Ten per cent, to the author of the book in 
hand, and ten per cent, to the House. Then, should there 
be any further profit, it will be apportioned thus : one- 
third — of which a moiety will go towards a pension fund 
— to the employes of the House, the division to be 
arranged on a fixed scale " — (Enormous sensation, espe- 
cially among the tame authors) — " and the remainder to 
the author of the work. Thus, supposing that a book 
paid cent, per cent., I should take ten per cent., and the 
employes would take twenty-six and a fraction per cent., 
and the author would take sixty-four per cent." 

And here an interruption occurred. It came from No. 
I, who could no longer restrain his disgust. 

" I'll resign," he said ; " I'll resign ! Meeson's content 
with ten per cent, and out-of-pocket expenses, when an 
author — a mere author — gets sixt It's shameful — 

shameful ! " 

" If you choose to resign, you can," said Eu?tacc 



280 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

sharply; "but I advise you to take time to think it 



over." 



"Gentlemen," went on Eustace, "I daresay that this 
seems a great change to you, but I may as well say 
at once that I am no wild philanthropist. I expect to 
make it pay, and pay well. To begin with, I shall never 
undertake any work which I do not think will pay — that 
is, without an adequate guarantee, or in the capacity of 
a simple agent ; and my own ten per cent, will be the 
first charge on the profits ; then the author's ten. Of 
course, if I speculate in a book, and buy it out and out, 
subject to the risks, the case will be different. But with 
a net ten per cent, certain, I am, like people in any other 
line of business, quite prepared to be satisfied ; and, upon 
those terms, I expect to become the publisher of all the 
best writers in England, and I also expect that any good 
writer will in future be able to make a handsome income 
out of his work. Further, it strikes me that you will 
most of you find yourselves better off at the end of the 
year than you do at present." (Cheers.) " One or two 
more matters I much touch on. First and foremost the 
Hutches, which I consider a scandal to a great institution 
like this, will be abolished "—(Shouts of joy from the 
tame authors) — "and a handsome row of brick chambers 
erected in their place, and, further, their occupants will 
in future receive a very considerable permanent addition 
to their salaries." (Renewed and delirious cheering.) 
'Lastly, I will do away with this system — this horrid 
system — of calling men by numbers, as though they were 
convicts instead of free Englishmen. Henceforth every- 
body in this establishment will be known by his own 
name." (Loud cheers.) 

" And now one more thing : I hope to see you all at 



Mil -n\s ONCE AC. MX. 283 

dinner at Pompadour Hall this day next week, when 
we will christen our scheme and the new firm, which, 
however, in the future as in the past, will be known as 
Meeson & Co., for, as we arc all to share in the profits 
of our undertaking, I consider that we shall still be a 
company, and 1 hope a prosperous and an honest com- 
pany in the truest sense of the word." And then, amidst 
a burst of prolonged and rapturous cheering, Eustace 
and his wife bowed, and were escorted out to the carriage 
that was waiting to drive them to Pompadour Hall. 

In half-an-hour's time they were re-entering the palatial 
gates, from which, less than a year before, Eustace had 
been driven forth to seek his fortune. There, on either 
side, were drawn up the long lines of menials, gorgeous 
with plush and powder (for Mr. Meeson's servants had 
never been discharged), and there was the fat butler, 
Johnston, at their head, the same who had given his fare- 
well message to his uncle. 

" Good gracious ! " said Augusta, glancing up the 
marble steps, " there are six of those great footmen. 
What on earth shall I do with them all " 

"Sack them," said Eustace abruptly; "the sight of 
those overfed brutes makes me ill ! " 

And then they were bowed in — and cowering under 
the close scrutiny of many pairs of eyes, wandered off 
with what dignity they could command to dress for dinner. 

In due course they found themselves at dinner, and such 
a dinner ! It took an hour and twenty minutes to g< t 
through, or rather the six footmen took an hour and twenty 
minutes to carry the silver dishes in and out. Never since 
their marriage had Eustace and Augusta felt so miserable. 

" I don't think that I like being so rich," said Augusta, 
rising and coming down the long table to her husband, 



284 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

when at last Johnson had softly closed the door. " It 
oppresses me ! " 

" So it does me," said Eustace ; " and I tell you what 
it is, Gussie," he went on, putting his arm round her, 
" I won't have all those infernal fellows hanging round 
me. I shall sell this place, and go in for something 
quieter." 

At that moment there came a dreadful diversion. 
Suddenly, and without the slightest warning, the folding 
doors at either end of the room opened. Through the one 
came two enormous footmen laden with coffee and cream, 
&c, and through the other Johnston and another powdered 
monster bearing cognac and other liqueurs. And there 
was Augusta with Eustace's arm round her, absolutely too 
paralysed to stir. Just as the men came up she got 
away somehow, and stood looking very foolish, while 
Eustace frowned, and bit his lips. Indeed, the only people 
who showed no confusion were those magnificent menials, 
who never turned a single powdered hair, but went through 
their solemn rites with perfectly unabashed countenances. 

" I can't stand this," said Augusta feebly, when they 
had at length departed. " I am going to bed ; I feel 
quite faint." 

"All right," said Eustace, "I think that it is the best 
thing to do in this comfortless shop. Confound that 
fellow Short, why couldn't he come and dine ? I wonder 
if there is any place where one could go to smoke a pipe, 
or rather a cigar — I suppose those fellows would despise 
me if I smoked a pipe! There was no smoking allowed 
here in my uncle's time, so I used to smoke in the house- 
keeper's room ; but I can't do that now." 

" Why don't you smoke here ? — the room is so big 
that it would not smell," said Augusta. 



MEESON S * »NCE AGAIN. 

" Oh, hang it all, no," said Eustace ; " think of the 
velvet curtains ! I can't sit and smoke by myself in a 
room fifty feet by thirty ; I should get the blues. No, I 
shall come upstairs, too, and smoke there " 

And he did. 

Early, very early in the morning, when Eustace was still 
fast asleep, Augusta woke, got up, and dressed herself. 

The light was streaming through the rich gold cloth cur- 
tains, some of which she had drawn. It lit upon the 
ewers, made of solid silver, on the fine lace hangings of 
the bed, and the priceless inlaid furniture, and played 
round the faces of the Cupids on the frescoed ceiling. 
Augusta stared at it all, and then thought of the late 
master of this untold magnificence as he lay dying in the 
miserable hut on Kerguelen Land. What a contrast was 
here ! 

" Eustace," she said to her sleeping spouse, " wake up. 
I want to say something to you." 

" Eh ! what's the matter ? " answered Eustace, yawning. 

" Eustace, we are too rich — we ought to do something 
with all this money.'' 

" All right," said Eustace, " I'm agreeable. What do 
you want to do ? " 

" I want to give away a good sum — say, two hundred 
thousand, that isn't much out of all you have — to found 
an institution for broken-down authors." 

" Wry well," said Eustace ; " only you must see about 
it, I can't be bothered. By the way," he added, waking 
up a little, " you remember what the old boy told you 
when he was dying ? I think that starving authors who 
have published with Meeson's ought to have the first right 
of election." 

" I think so, too," said Augusta; and she went to the 



286 MR. MEESON'S WILL. 

buhl writing-table to work out that scheme on paper which, 
as the public is aware, is about to prove such a boon to 
the world of scribblers. 

" I say, Gussie ! " suddenly said her husband. " I've 
just had a dream ! " 

" Well ! " she said sharply, for she was busy with her 
scheme ; " what is it ? " 

"I dreamt that James Short was a Q.C., and making 
twenty thousand a year, and that he had married Lady 
Holmhurst." 

" I should not wonder if that came true," answered 
Augusta, biting the top of her pen. 

Then came another pause. 

" Gussie," said Eustace sleepily, "are you quite happy ? " 

" Yes, of course I am ; that is, I should be if it wasn't 
for those footmen and the silver water-jugs." 

" I wonder at that," said her husband. 

" Why ? " 

" Because " — (yawn) — " of that will " — (yawn). " I 
should not have believed that a woman could be quite 
happy " — (yawn) — " who can never go to Court." 

And he went to sleep again ; while, disdaining reply, 
Augusta worked on. 



THE END. 



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A Princess of Jutedom. 

M Mr. Gibbon is much at home in his story of a Dundee merchant's 
daughter. The characters are natural, 'to the nails.'" — 
Athoucum. 

BY THEODORE A. THARP. 

Cradled in a Storm. 

"There is undoubtedly a great charm in a story which at its 
commencement impresses 'the reader with a sense of mystery 
and weirdness. The description of Gaunchester Haugh with 
which the author opens his romance is invested with a strange 
glamour of old-world beauty." — Court /ournal. 

BY CAPTAIN W. D. L'ESTRANGE. 

Under Fourteen Flags. Being the Life 

and Adventures of Brigadier-General MacIver, a Soldier 
of Fortune. 

" We should recommend every one who has exhausted Mayne Reid 
and other favourite writers to procure ' Under Fourteen Flags,' 
and can promise that whoever does so in search of amusement 
and excitement will not have spent his money in vain." — 
Pictorial World. 



SPENCER BLACKETT*S PUBLICATIONS n 

NEW TWO SHILLING NOVELS— continued. 

i . t boards, is. ; doth gilt, 2s.6d. Postage, 4</. 

BY JULIA KAVANAGH. 

Two Lilies. 

"■ A pleasant, clever story." — Daily News. 

" The rival Lilies are admirably contrasted." — Athen<ruvt. 



Queen Mab. 

" The work is a love-story of more than ordinary interest, cleverly 
written, and full of good studies of character.'' — SeatsHnWt, 



BY M. BETHAM-EDWARDS. 
Forestalled. [Shortly. 

BY JOSEPH HATTON. 

The Gay World. \& 

BY JAMES MURPHY, 

The Haunted Church. l& ■» 



i2 SPENCER BLACKETTS PUBLICATIONS 



"RITA'S" NOVELS. 

A Cheap Uniform Edition. 

Crown Svo. Price, picture boards, 2s. ; cloth gilt, 2s. 6d.; half morocco, 

y. 6d. each. Postage, a,d. 



" Rita's heroes and heroines are very human."— Lady's Pictorial. 



1. Dame Durden. 

"Dame Durden is a charming conception." — Spectator. 

2. My Lady Coquette. 

" It would be well, indeed, if fiction generally could be kept up to 
this level." — Academy. 

3. Vivienne. 

"Intensely dramatic, abounding in incident and sensation."— Daily 
Telegraph. 

4. Like Dian's Kiss. 

"A pretty story, full of plot, pathos, and character."— Standard. 

5. Countess Daphne. 

"Written with considerable skill. "—Jthenaum. 

" All lovers of the divine art of music should read it, as it contains 
words on art matters which must fire their zeal and foster noble 
feelings. The story is full of interest."— Musical Review. 

6. Fragoletta. 

" A fascinating story, full of interest throughout." — Saturday Review. 

7. A Sinless Secret. 

" Full of pathetic episodes and charming love passages." — The World. 



SPEXCER BLACKETT'S PUBLICATIONS 13 
" RITA S " N0VEL8— continued. 

Crcr.cn Sit7. Price, picture boards, is. ; cloth gilt, is, 6<f. ; half morocco, 

3 . 6</. each. Pottage, 4./. 

8. Faustine. 

" A sensational novel of a refined order that must hold the attention 
* of the reader. It s very well written, and has all the elements 
of popularity." — Life. 

9. After Long Grief and Pain. 

" The moral of the storv is sound, the dialogue is smart and lively, 
the style clear and vigorous throughout." — Daily Tele^rafh. 

10. Two Bad Blue Eyes. 

"As a literary exponent of the emotions of the lovers of our day 
Rita is by no means below the average of her literary neighbours. 
In the present volume she has depicted a female St. Anthony, 
exposed to long and terrible temptations, yet aniving scathless 
at the goal of virtuous marriage with the man of her choice." — 
Atherutum. 

11. Darby and Joan. 

"The real attraction of the book lies in Rita's especial gut— the 
delineations of the thoughts and feelings of youth." — Morning 
Post. 

12. My Lord Conceit. 

" Rita's books are so well ki W that it does not need a critic 

to tell the public that her style is good, and the »t<>ry she tells 
an interesting one. Her pi ry has these good point-, 

and the merit I of refinement in a great degree." — 

Whitehall Review. 

13. Corinna. 

"'Corinna' is a \v>rk <> f more than merit. Th< 

neither deep nor intricate, but is both attractive and enter- 
taining, and the Lang undeniably graceful, and at I 
poetic." — Court foui 



i 4 SPENCER BLACKETT'S PUBLICATIONS 

MARY CECIL HAY'S NOVELS. 

A Cheap Uniform Edition. 

Price, picture boards, 2s.; cloth gilt, is, 6J.: half-morocco, y. 6d. each. 

Postage, A,(i. 



"Miss Hay has the most important qualification for a novelist, that is, 
in making her story clear, and in never letting the interest flag." 



1. Old MyddeltoD's Money. 

"Avarice has rarely been painted in its manifold features with such 
true touches, mingling the tragic and humouristic ; and never 
have the craving sycophants who cringe to wealth been so firmly 
nailed to the pillory." 

2. Hidden Perils. 

"Many a noble truth is enforced in the career of such a heroine as 
is seldom encountered through such trials and adventures, that 
only served to bring out her latent glorious qualities." 

3. Victor and Vanquished. 

"This series of struggles appears as a sublimation of the impas- 
sioned motives that seethe in the cauldron of society." 



7. For Her Dear Sake. 

" It is both as regards the conception and working out of the plot a 
<l. i ided success, and will long hold its pi tee as one of the best 
ul its class that has appeared for some time." 



SPENCER BLACKETT'S PUBLICATIONS 15 
MARY CECIL HAY'S NOVELS— continued. 

Price, picture boards, 2s.: cloth gilt, zs.6d.j halj-morocco t 3t.6d.eack. 

Postage, 4./. 

9. Dorothy's Venture. 

'• la the way in which the plot is worked out there is considerable 
skill, and many incidents aie related with much power. Alto- 
gether there is a freshness about this novel which carries its own 

fascination." 

10. Missing. 

" An ingeniously constructed story, above the average, with at least 
one clever study of feminine character. It may be said gene- 
rally that Miss Hay shows much skill in construction, some 
perception of character, and a laudable reticence in style." 



11. Under the Will. 

" Decidedly attractive, plaintive and pathetic in the extreme. A 
picture most vividly given, and the finale with its deed of 
hero mu capitally imagine 



12. Bid Me Discourse. 

•• Bright, freih, sparkling, full of intei 



13. Lester's Secret. 

■ Readers will be rewarded by clever sketches of character ; witty 
iall talk and sarcasm, and effective backgrounds of weird 
Dai entry thrown in to lighten the local colouring 

narrative of rapine and rapacity, and jealousy and heart bum.: 



14. A Wicked Girl. {Pna one sau 



1 6 SPENCER BLACKETT'S PUBLICATIONS 

DORA RUSSELL'S NOVELS. 

A Cheap Uniform Edition. 
Croivii Sso. Price, picture boards, 2s. ; cloth gilt, 2s. 6a. Postage, i,d. 



" Miss Russell writes easily and well, and she has the gift of making 
her characters describe themselves by their dialogue, which is bright and 
natural. " — Athenceum, 



1. Footprints in the Snow. 

" There are here all the elements of tragedy. Miss Russell's scenes 
are of a dramatic kind." — Daily News. 



2. The Vicar's Governess. 

"Undoubtedly a clever and well-written story. A book which 
contains a good deal that is interesting, and indicates a reserve 
of something still better." — Times. 



3. Beneath the Wave. 

" Certain to become popular. The story is cleverly told. There is 
a strong sensational interest in each chapter." — Lloyd's Weekly 
News. 



4. Annabel's Rival. 

"Some of the characters, especially that of the clever, worldly 
schoolmistress, are very cleverly drawn." — Standard. 



5. Lady Sefton's Pride. 



"We recommend ' Lady Sefton's Pride ' to anyone who has the 
toothache, and, unable to cure it, wishes to forget it. The tale 
i, especially calculated to take the reader's attention away from 
himself." — Literary World. 



SPENCER BLACKETT'S PUBLICATIONS 17 
DORA RUSSELLS NOVELS continued. 

Cm Price, picture . 

6. Qaite True. 

" Possesses that on<; merit in a novel without which all others are 
apt to be nf little avail — it is exceedingly interesting." - Graphic. 

7. The Broken Seal. 

" I he mystery is maintained with a skill which would not disgrace 

that master of this form of craft— Mr. Wilkie Collins. " — Daily 
X. ws. 

8. Croesus's Widow. 

" Miss Russell has a very good story to tell, and very well she tells 
it."— Life. 

9. Hidden in My Heart. {shorn?. 

" The plot is well constructed. It is an absorbing tale which has 
the wherewithal to become popular." — Morning Post. 



The Author's otlur Works will follo~.v in due succession. 

W. STEPHEN HAYWARD'S NOVELS. 

Crown Svo. Price, picture boards, is. ; cloth gUt, is. 6t. Postage, $J. 



4. Ethel Grey. 

5. Caroline. 

6. Maude Luton. 

7. The Three Red Men. 

8. John Hazel's Vengeance. 14 - Dianas Defender. 

9. Barbara Home. 15. Colonel s Daughter. 



11. The Woman in Red. 

12. The Stolen Will. 

13. The Black Flag. 



1 8 SPENCER BLACKETT'S PUBLICATIONS 



F. E. M. NOTLEY'S NOVELS. 

Crown 87/(7. Price, picture boards, 2s. ; cloth gilt, zs. 6d.; half morocco, 

t,s. 6d. each. Postage, qd. 



1. Red Riding Hood. 

"We feel in reading this pure story that a mind speaks to our 
mind ; that it is not a mere voice telling an idle tale to be 
forgotten in an hour." — Sunday Times. 

2. Beneath the Wheels. 

"It may be affirmed that a larger accumulation of mysteries has 
seldom or never been heaped into one novel before, \\ hile the 
author may be complimented on having provided a satisfactory 
key for every one of them." — Athenccum. 

3. Love's Crosses. 

" The author has written a fervent love story, abounding with 
passages of great warmth, and including a most sensational 
homicide." — Athenccum. 



PERCY B. ST. JOHN'S NOVELS. 

Crown 8vo. Price, picture boards, 2s. 



1. Sailor Crusoe. 

2. Snow Ship. 



4. My Beautiful Daughter. 

5. The Daughter of the 



*o J 



3. Young Buccaneer. Sea. 



E. S. DREWRY'S NOVELS. 

Crown 8vo. Price, picture boards, is.; cloth gilt, 2s. 6d. ; half morocco, ^s. 6d. 



1. Only an Actress. 

2. On Dangerous Ground. 



3. Baptised with a Curse. 

4. A Death-Ring. 



SPENCER BLACKETT'S PUBLICATIONS if) 

MRS. JOHN KENT SPENDER'S NOVELS. 

Crow: S.".\ Price, pi lurt 6 ■ u is, 2s. ; cl . - i. : halt mom co, 3 



1. Mr. ITobody. 

2. Parted Lives. 

3. Both in the Wrong. 



4. Recollections of a 
Country Doctor. 



MISS E. SPENDER'S NOVELS. 

•: Svo. Price, picture boards, 2s. ; cloth gilt, 2s. 6 d. ; half morocco, 3*. Gd. 



1. Restored 

2. A True Marriage. 

3. Son and Heir. 



4. Kings ford. 

5. Until the Day Breaks. 



MRS. H. LOVETT CAMERON'S NOVELS 

•1 $vj. Price, picture boards, 2S.; cloth gilt, 2s. Gd.; half morocco, $s. Gd. 



1. Vera Nevill. | 2. Pure Gold. | 3. Worth Winning. 
MRS. POWER O'DONOGHUE'S NOVELS. 

Crown Sio. Price, picture boards, 2s. ; cloth gill, 2s. Gd. ; half morocco, 3-f. Gd. 



1. Unfairly Won. j 2. A Beggar on Horseback. 



2 o SPENCER BLACKETTS PUBLICATIONS 

VARIOUS AUTHORS' WORKS. 

Crown 8vo. Price, picture boards, 2s.; cloth gilt, 2s. 6d. Postage, qd. 



Scully dom. By P. A. Egan. 

The Nick of Time. By W. T. Hickman. 

Expiation. By E. P. Oppenheim. 

The Morals of Mayfair. By Mrs. Edwards. 

Britain's Slaves. By George Challis. 

Love's Strategy. By Adolpiius Silberstein. 

The Tichborne Trial. The Summing up of 

the Lord Chief Justice. 

Misses and Matrimony. By Lieut. -Colonel 

Knollys. 

The Black Band ; or, Mysteries of Midnight. 
Illustrated by Gustave Dore. 



SPEXCER BLACKETTS PUBLICATIONS -m 



BLACKETT'S SELECT SHILLING NOVELS 

BY 

POPULAR AUTHORS. 



Price t paper . is. Postage, 2 . 

99, Dark Street. By F. W. Robinson. 

"Who love-; a good mystery persuasively handled and sustained 
should be gratified by Mr. Robinson's '99, Dark Street." 1 — 
Sat m tiay Revit 

Price, pa£cr cover, is. Postage, 2J. 

A Wicked Girl. By Mary Cecil Hay. 

"The story has an ingenioudy carried out plot. Mis- Hay 
graceful writer, and her pathos is genuine." — Morning Post. 

Price, paper cover, is. Postage, : 

Gabriel Allen, M.P. By G. A. Henty. 

"ThosewhodonotreadMi.il of 'Gabriel Allen, M.P.,' 

lose a very good thing." — Whitehall A'ez; 

Price, paper coz-er, is. Post '.. 

The Argonauts of North Liberty. By 

Bret Hakik. 

I thrilling romance. It is one of the author's bi -." — 

Academy, 
" The story is sure of a wide success. " — Scotsman. 

Crown Sfo, paper cover, is, Pos: 

The Abbey Murder. By Joseph Hatton. 

• >ry of 'Mary the Mail <•( the Inn ' forms I <>f 'The 

bey Murder.' It bas manipuli Mr. J 

Hatton with all his u>ual skill and dramatic force." — The 



22 SPENCER B LAC RETT'S PUBLICATIONS 



SELECT SHILLING NOVELS— continued. 

Crown 8vo, paper cover, is., or cloth, is. 6d. Postage, 2d. 

A Mere Child. By L. B. Walford. 

"It is refreshing to read a story in which there is no bad character 
and no pretension to any other aim than those of pleasing the 
reader and holding his attention. It is a capital specimen of 
the author's agreeable style." — Athenceum. 

Crown 8vo, paper cover, Is. ; cloth, Is. 6d. Postage, 2d. 

Love Until Death. By R. Whelan Boyle. 

"A pathetic story of powerful interest." — Scotsman. 
Croxvn 8vo, paper cover, is. ; cloth, is. 6d. Postage, 2d. 

The Queen's Token. By Mrs. Cashel Hoey. 

Crown 8vo, paper cover, Is. ; cloth, is. 6d. Postage, 2d. 

The Haunted Fountain. Bv Catherine 

MACQUOID. • [Shortly. 

Crown 8vo, paper cover, is. : cloth, Is. 6d. Postage, 2d. 

Favour and Fortune. By Minnie Young. 

[Shortly. 

This Series will be exclusively reserved to the works of well-known 
Authors. Other volumes are in course of preparation, and will 
be published at short intervals. 



* * 
* 



Just ready, crown 8vo, paper cover, Is.; cloth, is. 6d. Postage, 2d. 

In the Shadow of Death. By Sir Gilbert 

Campbell, Bart. 



SJ 7.'.\'( '££ BjL I CKE TT'S PUBL IC 'A Til )JVS g 3 
ONE SHILLING NOVELS-™///// 

Crown . is.; cloth, is. 6 J. Postage, 2 

Galloping Days at the Deanery. W\ 

Charles James. [/,. .v 

Ne-o Edition. Price ; paper cover, is. .1 : 6d. Pou 

At What Cost. By Hugh Conway, Author 
of '• Called Back," etc. 

Twenty-fifth Thousand. Pri e, paper cover, is. : c/o.'h, is. 6d. Postage, - 

Sappho : a Romance of Art and Love. By 
Alphonse Daudet. 

" No man or woman of sense can say that it is anything but a good 
book, and a book to read." — Court and Society Review. 

With full-page Illustrations . Pri . 'cover, is. Pasta 2 . 

The Wife's Sacrifice (Martyre!) By Adolpi 

D'Ennery. Translated by H. Sutherland Edwarj 

" The story is a very exciting one, full of strong situations and 

ling incidents, so that the reader is carried along breathless." — 

Price, paper cover, is. Postage, id. 

The Divorced Princess (Divorcee). B) 

Rene de Pont-Jest. 

"A better shillingsworth to while away the tedium of a railway 
journey could scarcely be wished for." — Liverpool Lou 

Price, Lover, is.; cloth, is. 6d. Postage, 2d. 

Memoirs of Cora Pearl. Written by Her -if. 



24 SPENCER BLACKETT'S PUBLICATIONS 
ONE SHILLING NOVELS— continued. 

Uniform with "Memoirs of Cora Pearl." Price, is. Postage, 2d. 

Memoirs of Rose Pompon. Written by 

Herself. 

Price, paper cover, is. Postage, 2d. 

s 

Baffled. By Shirley B. Jevons. 

" A really clever, realistic' story, full of strong character-drawing 
and exciting incident, and, as a whole, excellent change for a 
shilling. " — Society. 

Price, paper cover, is.; cloth, is. 6d. Postage, 2d. 

Slowborough ; or, Rural Felicity. By Frank 
E. Emson, Author of " Our Town." 

Price, paper cover, is.; cloth, is. 6a. Postage, 2d. 

Innocent or Guilty? By Marion Greenhill. 

Crown 8vo, paper cover, is. Postage, 2d. 

The Marriage Stopped. By Robinson 

Moore. 

Price, paper cover, is. ; cloth, is. 6d. Postage, 2d. 

The Silent Shore. By John Bloundelle- 

BURTON. 

" It is really admirably written, and from first to last it has strong 
dramatic interest. It may fairly take its place among the best 
stories of the kind." — Scotsman. 

Price, paper cover, is. Postage, 2d. 

Three Lucky Shots. By Oscar Park. 

" It is an extremely good story of the sensational type. The incidents 
are natural, the plot is pieced together in a workman-like 
manner, and the book is altogether very pleasant reading." — 
Whitehall Review. 



SPJ R BLACKETT'S PUBLICATIONS 25 



ONE SHILLING NOVELS— amtim 

Price, paper cover, is. Postage, 2d. 

Musical Snares. By Annabel Gray. 

" A smart expose", in fictional form, of the wiles of musical ag' 
told in a bright and telling fashion." — So 

over, is. .- doth, is. 6J. J'c 

The Cabman's Daughter. 

"A simple and unpretentious tale of London life. Humour i- 

wanting, and the love-making will please by its naive prettiness." 
—Lloyd's. 

Price, paper cover, is. Postage, 2d. 

Darker than Night. By Henry Constable. 

"We can recommend this to our readers as a good shillingsworth, 
in which quality rather than quantity has been the object 
aimed at."— Sheffield Telegraph. 

Price, paper cover, is. : cloth, is. 6d. Postage, 2d. 

The Cithern: Poems for Recitation. By Mrs. 
Atlmer Gowing, Author of "Ballads and Poems,'' etc 
" Mrs. Gowing's verse is easy and Rowing, and her poetry heart- 
stirring and vigorous. There is nothing in this little volume 
that is not deserving of praise." — Tablet. 

Croivn &vo, paper cover, price i . 

The Great Landlords of London. With 

Map of the Estates. By Frank Banfield, M.A. 

" I recommend this book to all who wish to understand the working 
of the great landlord system in the metropolis." — Truth. 

"We commend the study of this book to every tenant interested in 
the power wielded by the ground landlord." — Daily Chronicle. 

Price, paper cover, is. Postage, 2d. 

Imprisoned in the House of Detention 

for Libel. By John Dawson. 

"This is a well-written and readable account of the experience of a 
well-known journalist an 1 dramatic critic, written during a 
period of temporary obscurity within the walls of Her Majesty's 
prison at Clerkenwell." — Lady / 



26 SPENCER BLACKETT'S PUBLICATIONS 



SI XPENNY NO VELS. 

GUSTAVE AIMARD'S INDIAN TALES. 

Author's Copyright Cheap Edition. 

Crown 8vo. Price, paper cover, 6d. ; cloth limp, is. Postage, 2d. 

First Series. I Fifth Series. 



1. Trappers of Arkansas. 

2. Border Riiles. 
Freebooters. 
White Scalper. 

Second Series. 

Guide of the Desert. 
Insurgent Chief. 



3. 

4. 

5. 
6. 



7. Flying- Horseman. 

8. Last of the Aucas. 

Third Series. 

9. Missouri Outlaws. 
10. Prairie Flower. 

Indian Scout. 



16. Buccaneer Chief. 

17. Smuggler Hero. 

18. Rebel Chief. 

Sixth Series. 

19. The Adventurers. 

20. Pearl of the Andes. 

21. Trail Hunter. 

Seventh Series. 

22. Pirates of the Prairies. 

23. Trapper's Daughter. 

24. Tiger Slayer. 

Eighth Series. 

25. Gold Seekers. 

26. Indian Chief. 

27. Red Track. 

Ninth Series. 

28. The Treasure of Pearls. 

29. Red River Half Breed. 

Each Series also published in volume form, price, cloth gilt, 2s. 6d. 
The whole carefully revised and edited by Percy B. St. John. 

Price, paper covers, 6d.; cloth limp, is. Postage, 2d. 

How to Live on a Shilling a Week. By 

One who has Tried It. 

" The author shows how it can be done. As exhibiting possibilities 
the suggestions are interesting." — News of the World. 

Cheaper Edition, price, paper cover, 6d. Postage, 2d. 

The Cithern : Poems for Recitation. By Mrs. 
Aylmer Gowing, Author of " Jntliads and Poems," etc. 
"A harming little volume, containing many pieces that arc 

suitable for recitation, and are by this time widely known and 
appreciated." — Lady's Pictorial. 



11. 

12. 

13. 
14. 



Stronghand. 

Fourth Series. 

The Bee Hunters. 
Stoneheart. 



15. Queen of the Savannah. 



SPENCER BLACKETT'S PUBLICATIONS 27 

ATTRACTIVE PICTURES AND STORIES 
FOR YOUNG CHILDREN. 

BEAUTIFULLY COLOURED TOY BOOKS. 
WITH Storiks Written by Miss F. M. GALLAHER. 

Carefully printed on superfine paper in large clear type. 



tn Coloured Plates. Price, picture boards, is. 6J. Po. 

Children's Chums. Stories by Miss F. M. 

Gallaher. 

Contains bright and pleasing pictures of children and their pets, and 
simple stories in large type. 

Six Coloured Plates. Price, stiff picture wrapper, 6d. ros/iige, id. 

A Night at the Circus. Stories by Miss 
1. M. Gallaher. 

Contains attractive coloured illustrations, and simple reading in 
large ty] 

Six Coloured TUtcs. Price, stiff picture wrapper, 6d. Postage, 1 

Baby's Book. Stories by Miss F. M. 
Gallaher. 

Contains brightly coloured pictures and reading suited to very 
ung mm 

"Jl IE Rayne," in 7* : " I have only time to mention 

three children's picture books, 'A Night at the • 

ik,' both fairl; L'l hildren's Chums,' very 
go I." 

" Peligh-ful books for the small children in the nursery. The 
is large and read by those who have gained that at. 

.ml the stoi id the t ision 

of very little on-. 



.8 SPENCER B LAC RETT'S PUBLICATIONS 



BRITISH STANDARD HANDBOOKS. 

Price, picture covers, Illustrated, 2d. each. Postage, y z d. 
A NEW SERIES OF ILLUSTRATED^PRACTICAL HANDBOOKS 

OF 

SPORTS AND PASTIMES. 



Each book is complete in itself. These Handbooks are perfect ency- 
clopasdias of information upon their respective topics. They readily 
commend themselves as marvels of cheapness. 



FIRST SERIES. 

1. Rowing- and Sculling. 

2. Cricket. 

3. Bicycling- and Tri- 

cycling. 

4. Fishing. 

5. Swimming. 

6. Athletic Exercises for 

Health and Strength. 

7. Field Sports. 

8. Fowls. 

9. Pigeons. 

10. Rabbits. 

11. Card Games. 

12. Chess. 

13. Football. 



SECOND SERIES. 



14 



Athletic 
Skill. 

15. Skating 

on the Ice. 

16. Draughts and 
gammon. 

Song Birds. 
Fireworks. 
Parlour Conjurer 



and Games 



Back- 



17. 
18. 
19. 



20. Book of Pets. 



Games ' of 33 



21. Boxing, Wrestling, and 

Fencing, or the Art 
of Self-Defence. 

22. Chemical Wonders for 

Home Exhibition. 

23. Gymnastic Exercises. 

24. The Magic Lantern. 

25. The Student Collector. 

26. Dogs : How to Keep 

and Train them. 

THIRD SERIES. 

27. Lawn Tennis. 
Puzzles and Riddles. 
Riding and Driving. 
Hand and Finger 

Tricks. 
Archery. 

Vocal and Optical 

Deceptions. 
Toy Boats and Sailing 

Craft. 
Fencing. 

Burlesque Giants and 
Dwarfs. 

Thought Reader. 
Billiards : Ball and 

Cue Games. 
Punch and Puppets 
Young Play-Actor. 



28. 
29 
30 

31 

32 



34 
35 

36 
37 

38 
39 



Also published in 3 volumes. First, second, and third Series, each 
containing thirteen books, price, cloth gilt, 2s. 6d.; cloth, gilt edges, 
3s. 6d. each. 



S/'/:.\ t EH BL . 1 1 KE TT'S PL r BL H '. / Th )NS 29 

ILLUSTRATED GIFT BOOKS. 

Handsome, Useful, and Well Bound. 



GIFT BOOKS AT TWO SHILLINGS AND SIXPENCE EACH. 



■ with Hundreds of Comic Cuts. Price, doth gilt, Illustrated, 2s. 6d. 
Postage, 4</. 

Merry and Wise : a Hook for all Seasons. 
By Bret Harte, Mark Twain, Max Adeler, 
I 'anbury Newsman, etc. 

With Co'oured PLites. Cro:. Price, cloth, gilt edges, 2s. 6./. 

Postage, 4</. 

Gulliver's Travels in Lilliput, Brobdiog- 

nag, and Houyhnhnmland, with an account of the Yahoos. 
By Lemuel Gulliver, Mariner. 

Crown S:>. Price, cloth, bevelled boa < , Illustrated, 2S. 6d. 

The Pierced Heart: a Romance. By Cap- 
tain Mavne Reid. With numerous Illustrations. 

Crown N: . Price, cloth, be- , Illustrated, 2s. 6d. 

age, 4./. 

The Star of Empire: a Tale. By Captain 

Mayne Reid. With numerous Illustrations. 



AN ILLUSTRATED GIFT BOOK FOR CHILDREN. 
Crown &vo. Price, loth, , 2s. . ,4c/. 

Stories Grandma Told. By Mary D. 

Brine. With numerous fine Engravings on Wood. 



Crmon Szo. Price, cloth, elegant, gilt edges, Illustrated, 2S. 6d. Postage, 4./. 

Frank Weatherall. By W. C. Metcalfe. 

A Story of Adventures in the Merchant Navy. With 
Illustrations on toned paper. 



3 o SPENCER BLACKETT'S PUBLICATIONS 
ILLUSTRATED GIFT BOOKS— continued. 

Crown Svo. Price, cloth, bevelled boards, gilt edges, Illustrated, 2s. 6d. 

Postage, 4</. 

The Golden Rangers. By Gabriel Ferry. 

An exciting Tale of Treasure-seeking among the Indians. 
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38 



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